Supreme Court denies Kleefisch’s election lawsuit

By: - February 4, 2022 1:51 pm
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and senior Wisconsin National Guard officials joined family and friends in welcoming home members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard at Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Vaughn R. Larson CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday declined to take up a lawsuit brought by Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch that attempts to change the rules for election administration. 

Kleefisch brought the lawsuit in November, asking the Supreme Court to change the rules for the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots, special voting deputies (SVDs) in nursing home facilities and how the locations of polling places can be changed. In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled it would not take up the case. 

Kleefisch’s suit was largely based on recommendations made in a report by the Legislative Audit Bureau last year. Kleefisch has made “election integrity” a key tenet of her campaign. 

“Our freedom, our way of life, and the future of our great nation all depend on free and fair elections — elections where every voter can trust the process and the result,” Kleefisch said when the lawsuit was announced. “Wisconsinites are sick and tired of unelected bureaucrats intentionally ignoring the law. The lawsuit forces WEC to clean up their act prior to administering the 2022 election.”

The court is already considering a case brought by two Waukesha County voters and the right-wing law firm, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, that raises similar issues. 

In addition to the lawsuits, there has been a large amount of legislative and administrative action on these issues. Republican legislators recently introduced a number of bills that would institute the LAB’s recommendations and the Wisconsin Elections Commission has begun the process for creating permanent rules on the same matters. 

As Republicans in Wisconsin have continued to question the results of the 2020 presidential election and spread conspiracy theories about misconduct, they’ve focused on these issues. 

In denying the case, the court’s three liberal-leaning justices were joined by Justice Brian Hagedorn, who is conservative-leaning but has frequently sided with the left wing of the court in election issues. 

In a dissent, Justice Patience Roggensack wrote that the court should take up the lawsuit addressing these issues because many voters are concerned about them. 

“Since the 2020 presidential election, many Wisconsin voters have raised serious concerns about the conduct of elections because of directives given by the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to the municipal clerks who run the elections,” wrote Roggensack, who was joined by fellow conservative Justices Annette Ziegler and Rebecca Bradley. “We have been petitioned repeatedly to accept cases that address very similar concerns.”


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.