The ballot drop box outside of Kaukauna's Municipal Services Building is currently locked following a recent state Supreme Court ruling. Voters can go inside to the clerk's office to return their ballot in person. Jason Sheaffer photo

KAUKAUNA — Although it is no longer in use following a recent state Supreme Court decision, some residents have taken to social media wondering if the ballot drop box in front of Kaukauna’s municipal services building is illegal.

A recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision ruled that there is no provision in state law allowing ballot drop boxes outside of municipal clerks offices, so they are therefore illegal.

Kaukauna’s drop box remains outside of the Municipal Services Building, but is no longer operable and is labeled, “kiosk closed.”

In a response to a comment in the Kaukauna Community News Facebook group, Mayor Tony Penterman noted that the box is closed and locked.

“We plan to keep it for developers dropping off plans after hours, tickets, or any other payments etc,” Penterman said. “We will cover it until we can get new graphics.”

Following an earlier court ruling in January, Municipal Clerk Sally Kenney said the city has used the drop box for every election since November 2020 as a convenience to voters.

“If we can no longer use the drop box based on a court ruling, then we will not use it,” Kenney said.

Some on social media, however, have argued the box should have been removed entirely following the court’s ruling.

“The question is why is it still there and not removed altogether since the court ruled they aren’t allowed?” wrote Jason Sheaffer on Facebook. “I went and looked for myself and there is no sign that says ‘submit ballots inside’.”

Kaukauna, along with many municipalities in Wisconsin, used the ballot drop boxes during the pandemic as a way for voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote without risk of coming into contract with others who may be contagious.

It wasn’t until after the 2020 election when unproven claims of voter fraud began to circulate that conservative groups went to the courts to prevent the use of drop boxes. They were successful in their challenge as the case made its way to the Supreme Court.

Currently voters can still drop off ballots in person at the Municipal Services Building, but they must be brought directly to the city clerk’s office and must be dropped off by the voter in person.

Votes also can vote in person through 4:30 p.m. on Aug, 5, 2022 for the Aug. 9, 2022 primary. Here are details.

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.