Yesterday, several Madison voters filed a lawsuit asking the court to declare the more than 10,000 absentee ballots returned during last weekend’s Democracy in the Park event legally collected.
The lawsuit comes after two prominent Republican lawmakers filed a cease-and-desist letter against Democracy in the Park, claiming without evidence that the event was “illegal” and “unsecure.”
At a press conference this afternoon, Madison City Attorney Michael Haas voiced his support of the Democracy in the Park campaign.
“Last saturday’s event of course was a big success, and we are looking forward to repeating that this weekend,” Haas said.
According to Haas, the event is entirely legal, and follows all necessary security measures.
“Now it is not insignificant that the two top leaders of the state legislature have attempted to cast doubt on our process,” Haas said, “and they have not yet disavowed their threat.”
Haas is referencing the cease-and-desist issued by two of Wisconsin’s top Republicans — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — that claimed without evidence that the event was an illegal collection of ballots.
“We understand the concern and confusion some voters have expressed about whether ballots returned to workers in the parks will be counted,” Haas said, “due to the unfortunate misinformation spread by some in the legislator and the media last week.”
Yesterday, voters rights attorney Doug Poland filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court on behalf of five City of Madison voters. The lawsuit asks the court to declare Democracy in the Park a lawful event, and guarantee that ballots will not be invalidated for the sole reason of being returned to the Clerk’s Office in a park.
According to Poland, the Republican cease-and-desist letter has no legal ground to stand on. However, he says that the lawsuit is meant to reassure Madison voters that their ballots won’t be left uncounted.
“We wanna make sure that those people can go with confidence to the Democracy in the Park event this Saturday,” Poland says, “and they can return their absentee ballot without having to fear that they might be subject to invalidation through a lawsuit later on.”
Poland says a decision is likely by tomorrow.
“We anticipate that we’ll get a favorable ruling from the court,” Haas says.
The final Democracy in the Park event is this Saturday, from 9am to 3pm. Madison voters can go to any of the 206 city parks involved and drop off their absentee ballot. For more information, residents can go to the City of Madison website at CityofMadison.com.