12/14/2020 | 11:15 AM ET
UPDATE: In a separate challenge, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has tossed President Trump’s case.
MADISON — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Mark Jefferson and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
The opinion, which was released this morning, says local election officials were wrong to suggest that voters could claim the status of “indefinitely confined” based on COVID-19. The majority decision also held that if voters falsely claimed they were indefinitely confined “their ballots would not count.”
But the court noted that a determination must be make in every case before tossing a ballot.
In a separate suit, President Trump has sought seek to invalidate all votes cast under the special status. In a second ruling released today, the court said the President was in error to ask that all ballots cast under the special status be tossed.
Under Wisconsin law, a voter may receive a ballot by mail and bypass Wisconsin’s voter ID law, if the voter, by his own determination, concludes he “confined” based on age, physical illness, or infirmity. This fall, roughly 215,000 voters in Wisconsin said they were indefinitely confined, nearly a four-fold increase from the 2016 election.
The court said the government’s interpretation of Wisconsin’s indefinitely confined was erroneous. “A county clerk may not “declare” that any elector is indefinitely confined due to a pandemic,” the court said. The court further stated that, “…the presence of a communicable disease such as COVID-19, in and of itself, does not entitle all electors [voters] in Wisconsin to obtain an absentee ballot…”
Moreover, the court stated that lockdown orders do not meet the requirements under Wisconsin law to allow a voter to claim the status of “indefinitely confined” either.
In its final decision, the justices concluded that it’s up to each voter — not the county clerks or anyone else — to decide if and when they qualify as indefinitely confined.
After a string of defeats in court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling comes as much needed victory for President Trump and his allies, and leaves the door open for additional challenges.