Wisconsin’s Absentee Ballot Witness Rule Under Attack By Democrats

Recent attempts to modify election security procedures in Wisconsin have raised concerns about the preservation of election integrity. A lawsuit filed this week by Democrat-funded Elias Law Group on behalf of four Wisconsin voters has come under scrutiny as critics view it as a challenge to the sanctity of the voting process. The plaintiffs contest Wisconsin’s requirement for absentee voters to secure a witness’s signature on their ballot envelope.

“Generally, Wisconsin requires a voter to procure the assistance of an adult U.S. citizen witness to cast a valid absentee ballot. Both the voter and the witness must then execute attestations,” according to the lawsuit details.

Such requirements are not exclusive to Wisconsin. Nine other states, including Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia, require a witness to sign off before counting absentee ballots. Additionally, states like Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota mandate that absentee ballots be notarized or accompanied by a copy of a state ID.

The Elias Law Group argues that this procedure is a “burden” to voters, hinting at the historical background of such requirements, which, according to them, were used as tactics to disenfranchise Black voters post-Civil War. Uzoma Nkwonta, a partner with Elias Law Group, said, “For almost 50 years, federal law has prohibited these requirements to ensure that no U.S. citizen is ever subject to such a burdensome restriction on their right to vote.”

Yet, as critics point out, the named voters in the lawsuit, including two students studying out of state, a Wisconsin native living overseas, and an older woman residing alone, have been able to vote absentee in recent elections successfully without any issues. So, is the witness signature truly a “burden” or just a measure to ensure the validity and security of the vote?

Interestingly, data from the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau reveals that in a random review of nearly 15,000 absentee ballots from the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin, about 7% of witness certificates were found to be missing components of the witness’ address. If this number indicates a broader trend, removing the witness requirement could potentially compromise the legitimacy of many ballots.

As a critical battleground state, Wisconsin has seen narrow victory margins in its presidential elections. With four of the past six presidential elections in Wisconsin being determined by less than a percentage point, every ballot’s integrity is paramount.

The core of this debate is whether the witness requirement is genuinely burdensome or merely an essential security measure. If ensuring the legitimacy of an election involves a step as simple as getting a witness’s signature, is it not worth the minor inconvenience for the greater good of election security? The Democratic-driven effort to challenge and change this rule prioritizes ease over election assurance, leading some to question the broader implications for the electoral process’s credibility.

While the debate continues, many conservative citizens are left wondering if the cornerstone of democracy, the act of voting, is being safeguarded or further undermined.