The Wisconsin Supreme Court said Monday that it is up to each individual voter to determine for themselves whether they are “indefinitely confined” and therefore able to request and submit an absentee ballot without showing photo identification.
The ruling came in a case filed earlier this year by the Wisconsin Republican Party against the Dane County clerk. The court took emergency action in March and ordered the clerk to stop telling voters that because of the pandemic and a statewide stay-at-home order, anyone could request an absentee ballot as indefinitely confined. The Milwaukee County clerk issued similar advice.
The clerks rescinded their advice after the court’s initial ruling. The court has since struck down the stay-at-home order.
The court said Monday that it agreed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s interpretation that it’s up to each individual voter to decide whether he or she is legitimately indefinitely confined.
The court's final decision is a more full examination of the issue, but is consistent with its previous ruling. The court was largely unanimous, but liberals dissented in parts, saying the conservative majority was being too narrow in saying who could legally call themselves indefinitely confined.
President Donald Trump, in a separate case, had wanted to disqualify more than 28,000 ballots in Dane and Milwaukee counties from voters who identified themselves as indefinitely confined. The court rejected that case on Monday.
In its ruling on indefinitely confined voters, the high court said the ballots of anyone who falsely claimed to be indefinitely confined “would not count.”
Statewide, about 215,000 voters said they were indefinitely confined for the presidential election. That is nearly four-times higher than in 2016, an increase elections officials said was due to the pandemic.
State law allows for voters to declare they are indefinitely confined because of age, disability or infirmity.