Milwaukee election staff mailing ballots, drop boxes to be staffed

Absentee ballots for the April 5 elections are on their way to voters, but options for returning those ballots are changing.

The 24/7 drop boxes that voters may be used to are now covered and locked. A judge ruled they are illegal in a case that is still working its way through the court system. However, there is one type of drop box that is allowed – and Milwaukee plans to let voters use it.

Milwaukee's next election is four weeks away, but the city's election commission is working now. Tuesday, employees filled 25,000 absentee ballots that are expected to be in mailboxes by the end of the week.

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In February, roughly half of all absentee voters returned their ballots in a drop box. That is not an option for the upcoming election.

"It’s disappointing that we continue to have law changes within 30 days, 90 days of elections," said Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.

Claire Woodall-Vogg

Woodall-Vogg said she expected confusion, but is working on new options.

"Our goal is to make voting as easy and as accessible as possible for voters," said Woodall-Vogg. "We read through the judge’s ruling, he does believe that staffed drop boxes at the clerk’s office or an alternative absentee ballot location is acceptable."

Voters can drop off absentee ballots at staffed drop boxes at an early voting site during voting hours. There is also a drive-up option on Saturdays.

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"You don’t have to get out of your car, you can hand your ballot to an election worker who will put it into a locked dropbox," Woodall-Vogg said.

The group fighting to remove drop boxes permanently, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), said drop boxes violate state law and their use raises concerns about election integrity.

Milwaukee election worker prepares absentee ballots

Woodall-Vogg said the election is secure and hopes the 24/7 drop boxes come back.

FOX6 News reached out to WILL to see if what they thought about the interpretation of the judge's ruling, but did not hear back.

Each absentee ballot in Milwaukee was mailed with an insert – in both English and Spanish – that lists the times and locations for the drive-up option.

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