Wisconsin judge rules that absentee voting van used in 2022 was illegal

A Wisconsin judge has ruled that state law does not allow the use of mobile absentee voting sites, siding with Republicans who had challenged Racine’s use of a voting van that traveled around the city in 2022.

Republicans opposed the use of the van, the only one of its kind in Wisconsin, saying its use was against the law, increased the chances of voter fraud and was used to bolster Democratic turnout.

Racine officials, the Democratic National Committee and the Milwaukee-based voting advocacy group Black Leaders Organizing for Communities refuted those claims and defended the legality of the van, saying there was no specific prohibition against it.

The lawsuit over the mobile voting van is one of several in battleground Wisconsin that could affect voting rules in the upcoming presidential election.

The van was first used in Racine’s municipal elections in 2022. It was purchased with grant money Racine received from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, the nonprofit created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. Republicans have been critical of the grants, calling the money “Zuckerbucks” that they say was used to tilt turnout in Democratic areas.

The van was used only to facilitate early in-person voting during the two weeks prior to an election, Racine City Clerk Tara McMenamin said. She said the vehicle was useful because it was becoming too cumbersome for her staff to set up their equipment in remote polling sites.

It traveled across the city to meet voters in their neighborhoods and collect early ballots.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, on behalf of Racine County Republican Party Chairman Ken Brown, filed a complaint the day after the August 2022 primary with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, arguing that the van was against state law. They argued that it was only sent to Democratic areas in the city in an illegal move to bolster turnout.

For the full article, visit The Associated Press.