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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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President Biden Tests Positive for Covid; Report: SD ethanol plants release hazardous air pollutants; Report: CA giant sequoia groves in peril after megafires.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

WI high court rules ballot dropboxes will return

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Monday, July 8, 2024   

In a significant turnaround, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has reversed its stance on ballot dropboxes - making them legal again in a 4-3 ruling.

Two years ago, when conservatives controlled the court, the justices restricted the use of dropboxes. The ruling said they could only be placed in local election clerks' offices, and a voter had to return their own ballot in person. However, when Justice Janet Protasiewicz was elected last April, control shifted on the high court.

Nick Ramos, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, is pleased with the decision and said his organization has known all along dropboxes are safe and improve voting access.

"They are a way that the electorate can access our democracy when it isn't necessarily so convenient," Ramos argued. "For our health care workers, the rural community, single parents out there."

Conservative members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court were against reviewing the case, stressing the significance of upholding and respecting legal precedent.

Luke Berg, deputy counsel at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, condemned the ruling, calling it "one of the worst decisions from the court in recent memory." He is convinced it was political and not what he thinks a court should be doing.

"I think it's deeply ironic that the court announced, by judicial fiat, its policy preference on a voting issue on the same day that it issued an opinion praising separation of powers, and then violated those very principles in the other opinion it issued," Berg asserted.

Ramos maintained the decision to make ballot boxes more widely available sends a clear message not only to the people of Wisconsin but the entire country.

"Especially after the year we've had, with bringing new maps, after living under the extreme partisan gerrymander that we've lived under for over a decade," Ramos emphasized. "It's a message of hope."

Ramos added he is proud of the volunteers, activists and key organizations who worked to bring about the change.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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