Thousands of sick or disabled voters in Wisconsin could cast their statutory ballots if a state lawsuit launched by the Trump campaign in the 2020 presidential election is successful, according to advocates of disability rights.
A lawsuit filed last week during the presidential campaign in Dane and Milwaukee counties is asking the court to cast approximately 28,000 ballot papers cast by indefinite voters in the two counties.
According to proponents, those voters include elderly nursing home residents, those with debilitating medical conditions, and those receiving hospice care at home.
Barbara Beckert, Milwaukee office director for Disability Rights Wisconsin, a statewide advocacy group, said these Wisconsinites rely on flexibility written in state law to exercise their constitutional franchise.
“People have such a hard life and now it’s just sad that they have to worry about being able to vote in the future,” said Beckert.
According to state lawAn indefinite voter is defined as someone who is “imprisoned or indefinitely disabled because of their age, physical illness or frailty”. The law allows voters to identify themselves as such by “signing an appropriate declaration”. In addition, these voters can provide a witness signature as proof of identity for voting purposes in lieu of a copy of their photo ID.
In his lawsuit, the Trump campaign argues that some voters identified themselves as indefinitely just to illegally bypass Wisconsin’s voter ID law. The lawsuit argues wrong guidance The individuals released in March by Dane and Milwaukee administrators encouraged people to abuse the law by over-applying it during the COVID-19 pandemic. The staff corrected their instructions in the same month, but the lawsuit argues that any ballot requested indefinitely after March 25 should be considered illegal.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell has argued since then With the guidelines corrected and with several months between March and November to educate voters, the Trump campaign’s concerns are controversial. The Trump campaign argues that the March guidelines caused damage that could not be corrected.
The Trump campaign has also pointed to a surge in indefinite voters in 2020 as evidence of abuse.
According to statistics from the Wisconsin Elections Commission provided to WPR, the number of indefinite voters in Dane County increased from 4,569 in 2016 to 22,519 in 2020. In Milwaukee County, that number increased from 11,978 to 45,693.
Beckert said the pandemic may have contributed to the surge as some elderly and disabled voters are now more isolated than ever.
“In normal times, during times without a pandemic, they may be able to get help from a family member or friend (to vote), but due to the fact that people are in a vulnerable population that is at high risk for COVID , people were a lot more isolated this year, “she said.
Beckert also said that voters who would ordinarily struggle to take a trip to the DMV in order to obtain valid ID to vote could make the trip even less in 2020.
Opponents of the Trump lawsuit have also indicated that not only were Dane and Milwaukee counties indefinitely restricted in 2020, though these are the only ballot papers contested in the lawsuit.
According to the Electoral Commission, Waukesha County had 17,459 indefinite voters who preferred Trump. Similarly, Washington and Ozaukee counties GOP strongholds had 5,060 and 3,820 indefinite voters in 2020, respectively.
Beckert said the Wisconsinites, who turn to their organization for assistance and information about unlimited, limited voting, “go to great lengths to participate in our democratic process, and they have additional obstacles that many of us do not need to deal with . “
“”When people inappropriately apply the indefinite provision, they are breaking the law, it is a problem for that person, “she said.” We shouldn’t take it away for the vast majority of law abiding citizens who need it and are appropriately using it. “
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