- On July 8, 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled to outlaw ballot drop boxes. Ballots should be hand delivered or mailed; ballot boxes do not fit into either of these categories.
- Rhodes-Conway has turned the absentee ballot drop boxes into a social art project. They feature loud, bold letters that read, “Truth is powerful and will prevail.” The boxes also openly state that banning these drop boxes is a “step backward.”
- She responded to the ruling, “It is disappointing and dangerous that the state’s highest ruling court is seemingly focused on making it as difficult as possible to participate in our democracy, rather than allowing election officials to focus on meeting voters’ needs in a safe and secure way.”
- Mayor Rhodes-Conway released a statement about the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it negatively impacts voters, especially disabled voters and voters of color.
- Forbes released an article that took an in-depth review of the physical security of ballot drop boxes and revealed that individuals could open them in 30 seconds or less.
- WI voters are given plenty of easy, safe, and secure local options for delivering their ballots.
- Registered voters can cast their votes and deliver them to any U.S. Postal Service mailbox, the city clerk’s office, any in-person absentee voting location during early voting, or your local polling place on Election Day.
Satya Rhodes-Conway was a member of the Madison Common Council from 2007 to 2013, and in 2019 she was elected Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin. She is the first openly LGBTQ person elected to this office and the second woman to hold the position.
When the Supreme Court ruled to outlaw absentee ballot boxes, Satya Rhodes-Conway was triggered. She removed the city’s vibrant blue flag from the boxes and chose to replace it with woke art as a testament to voters’ rights.
Absentee Ballot Boxes Outlawed
On July 8, 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled to outlaw ballot drop boxes. The widespread use of ballot drop boxes during the 2020 election raised its fair share of concerns, including whether it was violating state law and making it easier for fraudulent activities. The court’s majority ruled that the WI Election Commission had overstepped its authority when it issued guidance to local election clerks to allow drop boxes to return absentee ballots in the 2020 election.
In its ruling, the court said absentee ballots could be dropped off by the voter at the clerk’s office or another designated area, but not at an unmanned ballot box.
Sounds reasonable, considering unmanned ballot drop boxes had fraudulent and suspicious activity issues. Forbes released an article that took an in-depth review of the physical security of ballot drop boxes and revealed that individuals could open them in 30 seconds or less. We have also heard of news headlines concerning ballot boxes across the country that have been broken into.
This decision to outlaw the ballot drop boxes rubbed Mayor Rhodes-Conway the wrong way. She decided to give the existing, now prohibited-for-use, drop boxes a radical makeover. She responded to the ruling, “It is disappointing and dangerous that the state’s highest ruling court is seemingly focused on making it as difficult as possible to participate in our democracy, rather than allowing election officials to focus on meeting voters’ needs in a safe and secure way.”
Saying that outlawing these boxes is “making it as difficult as possible to participate” simply sensationalizes the situation. The problem is that ballot drop boxes aren’t always secured, especially when they are unmanned and do not have any dedicated surveillance or staff.
The second issue is voting should always be done by the individual who is registered to vote, not a family member or friend. Everyone should be responsible for their vote; it’s essential to ensure you’re not jeopardizing whether or not your vote is received and counted. Lastly, voters are still offered many local choices regarding where to drop their votes.
Outlawing ballot boxes is simply an extra security step to ensure nothing suspicious is happening. If voting is essential to the individual, they would naturally be willing to drop their ballot at the clerk’s office or another designated area. Responsible voters are eager to do their part.
Ballot Boxes Get a Radical Makeover
Rhodes-Conway has turned the absentee ballot drop boxes into a social art project. They feature quotes from a women’s rights activist named Sojourner Truth.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway released a statement about the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it negatively impacts voters, especially disabled voters and voters of color.
She added, “The ability to vote easily, safely, and securely is fundamental to our democratic process. Rather than removing these secure ballot drop boxes, we wanted to transform them to share the powerful words of Sojourner Truth and to convey our community’s belief in democracy, voting rights, and the prevailing power of truth.”
The drop boxes read: “This decision is a step backward in our efforts to make it easy, safe, and secure for every eligible voter to cast their ballot.”
Photo courtesy of the City of Madison, Mayor’s Office
It’s unclear how going to your local clerk’s office or a U.S. Postal Service mailbox to drop off your ballot is an imposition when you are already willing to go out to a ballot drop box or why your skin color dictates where you need to vote.
Then again, we know that Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has said questionable, contradictory, and confusing things just to prove her point in the past, even when they had no merit. Like when she tried to play both sides with protestors and law enforcement during the riots, which almost resulted in her being recalled.
Rhodes-Conway Failed to Take a Firm Stance During Riots
Mayor Rhodes-Conway was faced with a recall effort after she failed to take a clear stance during the riots. Instead, she pandered to both sides, hoping she wouldn’t get caught.
Initially, she was very openly supportive of the demonstrations, saying, “George Floyd should be alive tonight, and the fact that he isn’t is an American tragedy. I also want to say that I completely agree with the protesters around capitol square and right here in front of this building earlier today. I agree with their message, I agree with their right to protest, and I agree with how determinedly and peacefully they protested today.”
After protestors were tear-gassed by law enforcement on the first night of demonstrations, tensions quickly rose. The following day, Rhodes-Conway declared a state of emergency and imposed a 9:30 PM curfew on the isthmus area.
She released a password-protected video intended for the Madison Police Department, although that video was eventually leaked. She mentions in the video, “You must be exhausted. I know I am, and you’re facing a much more difficult situation than I am. It must be infuriating to stand in heavy gear outside while listening to people constantly insult your chosen profession. You are not what the protestors say you are. I know that. I was so focused on the tasks of addressing the concerns of our community that I didn’t remember that you need and deserve both recognition and appreciation.”
The video was leaked with the following message, “If you know your police are doing well, get out there (and) say it publicly. Stop kowtowing.” Once that video was released, Rhodes-Conway was immediately under fire from supporters of the demonstrations and protestors.
Rhodes-Conway quickly backpedaled and apologized for the statements made in the leaked video to the Madison Police Dept. She retracted her support for the Madison Police Department in an attempt to lessen the impact she would face. She said, “Black lives matter. I believe deeply in this, yet I failed to center this in my message to the police department. I realize I may have done irreparable harm with my actions, and I realize too that I may have permanently lost any trust I had.”
The recall was unsuccessful due to the inability to collect enough signatures in the allotted time frame. However, this radical mayor is making sure everyone remembers just how woke she is with this new moody makeover for the ballot boxes in Madison.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that voters are given plenty of easy, safe, and secure options. Removing one alternative that appears to be the weakest link is not “making it as difficult as possible” for residents to get out and vote. It certainly doesn’t show any evidence of compromising the safety or security of Wisconsin elections either.
Registered voters can cast their votes and deliver them to any U.S. Postal Service mailbox, the city clerk’s office, any in-person absentee voting location during early voting, or your local polling place on Election Day. Casting your vote at your local polling location on Election Day or dropping it off at a U.S. Postal Service mailbox is just as easy and secure as using a ballot drop box.