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Disabled Voters Sue Wisconsin After Court Restricts Absentee Voting Options

Disabled Voters Sue Wisconsin After Court Restricts Absentee Voting Options
mpilecky/Getty Images; Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Four disabled voters in Wisconsin are suing the state after the state Supreme Court restricted absentee voting options in advance of this fall's midterm elections.

The suit centers on the state Supreme Court's 4-3 ruling in favor of disallowing absentee ballots to be turned in by someone other than the voter, severely restricting many people's access to the vote, especially disabled voters.

Four such voters are asking a federal court in Madison to allow the disabled to have someone else submit their ballots for them, arguing that preventing the practice is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The ruling also outlaws absentee ballot drop boxes like those used in the 2020 election, though the lawsuit does not seek to overturn this part of the ruling.

The petitioners in the lawsuit say the ruling will bar them from voting entirely due to their disabilities, because though the ruling did not state as such, Wisconsin Elections Commission Director Meagan Wolfe said ballots cannot be mailed by another person either.

The attorney for the four plaintiffs' said this constitutes an unlawful prohibition of their franchise.

He wrote in the lawsuit's filing:

“Now Plaintiffs are faced with an impossible, and unlawful, choice: Abstain from voting altogether or risk that their ballots will be invalidated, or that their only available method to vote absentee (ballot-return assistance) could subject them to prosecution."

One such plaintiff, Timothy Carey, suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which has left him without the use of his hands and requires him to use a ventilator and other medical equipment, which makes it impossible for him to turn in his ballot himself.

He has voted by mail for more than 30 years as a result.

Carey angrily criticized the ruling at the time it was issued, accusing its proponents of ignoring the disabled entirely.

“Once again, the government treats adults to their own ends rather than [like] they’re people and they don’t think about the disabled at all, and I don’t think they want to think of us. They haven’t even considered us.”

On Twitter, people were outraged by what appears to many to be Wisconsin's majority right-wing legislature and Supreme Court doing all it can to hobble this fall's vote in the state, which includes high-stakes elections for Governor and U.S. Senator.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul publicly stated state law allows voters to have their absentee ballots turned in by someone else.