University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "Jefferson v. Dane County"
Date Sep 1, 2020
Author COVID-Related Election Litigation Tracker
External Link
Abstract Petitioners Mark Jefferson and the Republican Party of Wisconsin filed a petition and motion for temporary injunctive relief against respondents Dane County and Scott McDonell, in his official capacity as Dane County Clerk. Petitioners sought a temporary injunction ordering Mr. McDonell to remove a March 25, 2020 Facebook post regarding the proper use of “indefinitely confined” status for voters requesting an absentee ballot, and ordering Mr. McDonell and Dane County to issue new statements setting forth the statutory interpretation proposed by the petitioners. Mr. McDonnell’s post indicated that all Dane County voters could declare themselves to be "indefinitely confined" under Wis. Stat. § 6.86(2) due to illness solely because of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Emergency Order #12 (the Safer at Home Order) and difficulties in presenting or uploading a valid proof of identification, thereby avoiding the legal requirement to present or upload a copy of the voter's proof of identification when requesting an absentee ballot. As noted by the court, Mr. McDonell appeared to assert that all voters are automatically, indefinitely confined solely due to the emergency and the Safer at Home Order and that voters could therefore declare themselves to be indefinitely confined when requesting an absentee ballot, which would allow them to skip the step of presenting or uploading a valid proof of identification. Subsequently, in its March 29, 2020 publication, "Guidance for Indefinitely Confined Electors COVID-19," Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) issued guidance that (1) Designation of indefinitely confined status is for each individual voter to make based upon their current circumstances. It does not require permanent or total inability to travel outside of the residence. The designation is appropriate for electors who are indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness or infirmity or are disabled for an indefinite period; and (2) Indefinitely confined status shall not be used by electors simply as a means to avoid the photo ID requirement without regard to whether they are indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness or infirmity, or disability. The court granted the petitioners' motion for temporary injunctive relief and ordered Mr. McDonell to refrain from posting advice as the County Clerk for Dane County inconsistent with the WEC guidance.
Source Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

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