In Which a Judge Gets It Right

The Wisconsin Election Commission had issued guidance that voters who cast primary election ballots and who had voted for candidates subsequently dropped from the election campaign, but too late for them to be removed from the ballots, could “spoil” their ballots, get a replacement ballot, and vote again.

This guidance is illegal: under Wisconsin law, a voter can do that only before he’s cast his ballot—casting it is final and irrevocable. A Wisconsin judge recognized that, and said, “No.”

It may be useful for a voter, having cast his ballot, to be able to “spoil” that ballot and vote again—after all, corporations, with their mailed-out shareholder ballots know how to handle that as a matter of routine. However, Wisconsin law does not allow for that.

Further, Article I, Section 4, of our Constitution makes crystalline who is allowed to change a State’s election law. It’s a short list, consisting of one entity, and that list does not include election commissions.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof….

Nor does that short list include judges. The judge absolutely was correct to overrule the WEC, which was violating the law. The judge applied Wisconsin’s law as it exists rather than rewriting it and applying the rewrite.

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