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Wisconsin Supreme Court’s liberal majority questions past ruling barring ballot drop boxes

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Wisconsin Supreme Court’s liberal majority questions past ruling barring ballot drop boxes


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MADISON, Wisc. — The new liberal majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday questioned its conservative members’ past decision to bar state clerks from using absentee ballot drop boxes in a case that could impact turnout in a key swing state this November.

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Wisconsin’s highest court heard arguments Monday in a lawsuit backed by Democrats that seeks to overturn the court’s decision under its previous conservative majority that said state law does not allow drop boxes to be placed outside of an election clerk’s office and another ruling that prohibited clerks from filling in missing address information on absentee ballots.

“What if we just got it wrong?” said Justice Jill Karofsky, one of four members of the court’s liberal majority, referring to the court’s prior decision. “What if we made a mistake? Are we now supposed to just perpetuate that mistake into the future?”

The Wisconsin court in the coming weeks will decide whether to reinstate the use of absentee drop boxes, just before voters are set to cast ballots in the next presidential election featuring a rematch of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Biden defeated Trump in Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes four years ago. Since then, Trump has sought to persuade lawmakers and judges to overturn the battleground state’s election result and in doing so, argued ballots returned in drop boxes amounted to voter fraud despite a lack of evidence to support the claim.

Critical tool for elections in 2020. Why are some states limiting drop boxes?

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‘Not something you were obviously concerned about at all in 2020’

Ballot drop boxes had been used since the 1980s or 1990s in Wisconsin and other states but exploded in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic — especially in liberal-leaning areas — to help voters cast ballots while limiting interaction with other people.

On Monday, the court’s liberal justices questioned the court’s 2022 decision to ban the boxes, with some arguments focusing on the state Legislature’s past statements of support for their use.

“This was not something you were obviously concerned about at all in 2020 when you said that these boxes were expressly authorized and lawful,” Justice Rebecca Dallet said Monday to an attorney representing Republican legislative leaders, who are in court defending the 2022 ruling outlawing drop boxes against the challenge brought by liberal group Priorities USA and the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Voters.

“At that point in 2020 no one had raised any legal objections to drop boxes,” Misha Tseytlin, an attorney representing the Legislature, said in response.

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Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn questioned why past policy positions mattered to the justices’ work on interpreting the law.

“We’ve had parties change their positions very recently in this court and other people haven’t been troubled by that — why does it matter that the Legislature takes a different view of the statute for us to read the statute faithfully?” Hagedorn said.

Drop boxes and state law

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some states have added language about drop boxes to state law. Many include standards about how many drop boxes must be available, based on population, or require one per county.

The plaintiff’s arguments amounted to asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to become lawmakers, argued conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley.

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“You are asking this court to become a super Legislature and give free rein, despite what the statutes say, give free rein to municipal clerks to conduct elections however they see fit,” she said. “That, counsel, seems to me to be the greater danger to democracy because you’re asking this court to override what the Legislature wrote.”

Critics say drop boxes aren’t laid out in state law and that lawmakers, not the state elections commission, must create rules for them. Supporters say clerks have wide authority and discretion over what tools should be used to administer elections in their communities, an argument at least one liberal justice echoed Monday.

In spring 2021, there were about 570 drop boxes in Wisconsin, according to court filings. Out of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, at least 66 had drop boxes as of spring 2021, PolitiFact Wisconsin noted.

While Republicans have heavily scrutinized the use of drop boxes, they were used widely in Wisconsin, including in conservative areas.

If the Wisconsin court allows expanded use of drop boxes again, some cities with remaining drop box infrastructure may be able to open them back up quickly. Madison City Attorney Michael Haas said, for Madison, it would be a matter of unlocking the box and likely double-checking the video security.

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Contributing: Hope Karnopp, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Contact Molly Beck at molly.beck@jrn.com.



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Wisconsin

Wisconsin Veteran finds forever home

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Wisconsin Veteran finds forever home


MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – “He was homeless and living at a hotel,” said Christina Johnson.

That was Michael Cloyd’s life 8 months ago.

“I started falling down, and it kept getting worse,” said Cloyd. The 73 year old Vietnam Veteran was living out of a motel. His health was detreating.

Johnson said “I got a call from the home health nurse that he had had multiple falls.”

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“One of the guests called the ambulance,” said Cloyd.

Mike was taken to the VA Hospital near the end of last year. Where he remained for nearly four months due to complications in finding assisted living.

Cloyd said ”“I don’t know what it was with finding housing, but I couldn’t.”

Mike’s daughter says he had some issues earlier in life that people weren’t willing to look past. That was until Vilitha Clay and her family opened the doors to their home.

“I feel like despite your background and circumstances everyone deserves a second chance at redemption, at hope and at support,” said Clay.

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For Vilitha, this was a dream come true.

She said “I would always talk to my co-workers about wanting to open an adult family home.”

It’s been four months since Mike moved in and so much progress has already been made.

“I think that when he got here he was a little more quiet and more reserved and there was some anxiousness there just needing to get used to this new environment…but he’s handled it very well,” said Dion Huff.

Gaining nearly forty pounds of healthy weight. Mikes daughter says she can’t explain the difference this has made on her fathers mental health.

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“He looks happier, he looks healthier,” said Johnson.

Mike would agree.

“The staff is real nice…they are there when I need them you know,” said Cloyd.

For the Love Recovery and Connections staff, Mike is more than a resident.

“Mike is family” said Clay.

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From family gatherings to mothers day brunch.

“I’ve come to look at this a lot less like a job and just more of a connection that I am building with Mike…really been able to build a familial connection with Mike,” said Huff.

“I think this is what veterans are going to want, they want a small family setting and they want to be a part of the family and part of the community,” said Jordan Miller.

“To see how happy mike is I think that’s the best part,” said Clay.

The goal remains to bring more adult family homes like this to Dane county.

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“I think seeing the programs in other parts of the united states…and visiting the homes and seeing how well those veterans are doing, it just motivates me to bring this to Madison,” said Miller.

Providing love, recovery, and connection.

“I think at the end of the day where all just people who need love, support and acceptance. And I think that we should treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of where we come from and our age,” said Clay.

Click here to download the WMTV15 News app or our WMTV15 First Alert weather app.

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Wisconsin's Most Wanted: Tony Bogan has 'lengthy' drug criminal history

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Wisconsin's Most Wanted: Tony Bogan has 'lengthy' drug criminal history


Green and gold are often associated with winning. U.S. Marshals say a man who is paying tribute to the team with a face tattoo has a different sort of record.

“Tony has a very lengthy drug criminal history,” the U.S. Marshal on the case said.

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Tony Bogan is wanted by U.S. Marshals after he stopped showing up to court for a 2021 case. Investigators say officers spotted Bogan in a heated moment near 13th and Burleigh in October of that year.

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“A police officer was just driving by and saw a couple in an argument and saw what he thought was a firearm,” the marshal said.

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Officers say they spotted a gun in Bogan’s waistband. He’s prohibited from having a gun as a convicted felon. Bogan was arrested. He was released on bond and eventually stopped showing up to court. A warrant was issued for his arrest around the same time Jefferson County issued a warrant for him related to cocaine charges.

Bogan sometimes uses the nickname “Tone” and has several unique tattoos on his body.

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“His neck has many tattoos,” the marshal said. “Both arms are covered in tattoos.”

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It’s the ones on his face that might be the most noticeable. A money bag is tattooed near his left eye. The outline of the state with a Green Bay Packers logo in the middle near his other eye. Even his mouth stands out.

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“He does have gold teeth or a grill insert that he does wear,” the investigator said.

Bogan is 5’6″ tall and weighs 150 pounds. He is believed to be in Milwaukee or Madison. 

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U.S. Marshals encourage anyone with information about Bogan to call the U.S. Marshal tip line at 414-297-3707. You will remain anonymous.



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Badgers positional outlook for 2024 and beyond: Running Backs

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Badgers positional outlook for 2024 and beyond: Running Backs


The Wisconsin Badgers saw an influx of talent join the building at running back this offseason, landing three marquee freshmen, as well as a productive transfer, to create one of the deeper positional groups on the roster.

With the moving pieces, Wisconsin enters the fall season with eight scholarship running backs, holding a good balance between young and veteran talent.

How do the Badgers line up for the 2024 season, and beyond, at the running back position?

2024

The Badgers return Chez Mellusi to the fold after he suffered a fractured fibula, and the sixth-year senior likely takes over the top role out of the backfield.

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However, Wisconsin also brought in Oklahoma transfer running back Tawee Walker, who should immediately be a contributor as the No. 2 to Mellusi, although I could see the rotation ending up as more of a 1A-1B situation.

Walker’s 5’9, 230-pound frame suits him well for early down and goal-line work, while Mellusi’s change-of-pace style suits him for a versatile three-down role.

Behind the top two, Wisconsin returns Cade Yacamelli and Jackson Acker to the fold, with the former emerging as the No. 3 back after a strong spring.

With how injuries have gone over the past few seasons, the Badgers may need to rely on one of those options at some point during the season, and they both now have experience after seeing their first extensive action in 2023.

For 2024, the question becomes: can one of the true freshmen develop enough during the fall and the early portion of the season to become a part of the rotation at some point during the year?

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Gideon Ituka got his first reps during the spring, while Darrion Dupree and Dilin Jones are both joining the team for the fall. If one freshman can break into the rotation, this group becomes even more dangerous than it already is.

But, for now, the Badgers have a deep running back group with a mix of veteran experience and young, intriguing talent.

2025

Looking into the future, the Badgers will lose both Mellusi and Walker due to eligibility at the end of this season.

That leaves the team with six projected scholarship backs, and it’s expected that Wisconsin will take one back in their 2025 recruiting class after landing three this past cycle.

2025 will be a key year for the younger players, as the running back room will be wide open, with the hopes that Dupree, Jones, and Ituka can fill into the leftover reps and help field a strong two-dimensional group.

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Acker will be in his final year of eligibility, while Yacamelli will have two more, and they’ll both have decisions to make, depending on what their role ultimately ends up being this year. Will either player look for more playing time elsewhere, or remain a part of the rotation at Wisconsin?

Then, there’s redshirt freshman Nate White, who hasn’t broken into the top group yet, but has intriguing speed coming from a track background.

Still, even with the losses of Mellusi and Walker, it feels that the Badgers are in good shape with their running back room after getting such a strong 2024 class, with the hope that the younger talent can acclimate quickly to the next level.



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