MADISON — Wisconsin voters with disabilities can get help returning their ballots, despite a state Supreme Court ruling and state laws that suggest otherwise, a federal judge said Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson issued an order ahead of the November election saying that voters who have difficulty returning their own ballot can choose someone to return their ballot for them. Peterson cited the federal Voting Rights Act. Federal law generally takes precedence over state laws under the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause.
“Voters shouldn’t have to choose between exercising their federal rights and complying with state law,” Peterson wrote in his order.
The order comes after the state Supreme Court in July issued a ruling that outlawed absentee ballot drop boxes and said that voters must return their own absentee ballot in person to a clerk’s office or other designated site. The decision did not explicitly address voter assistance for returning ballots by mail.
However, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe subsequently said that “right now, the voter is the one required to mail the ballot,” referencing a state law that says the same.