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Wisconsin GOP-led committee votes to force ballot drop box, corrections rules

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FILE - Ballot drop box outside of La Crosse's city hall.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Legislature’s Republican-controlled rules committee voted Monday to force election officials to publish their policies on absentee ballot drop boxes and ballot envelope corrections as emergency rules by early February, a move that will allow the committee to kill the policies.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission issued guidance to local clerks as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning in 2020 that allows clerks could to create alternate sites for returning absentee ballots. Officials in liberal-leaning Madison used it to justify collecting ballots in city parks ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The elections commission issued guidance in 2016 that allows clerks to correct mistakes in witness addresses on absentee ballot envelopes on their own without contacting the witness or voter.

Republicans contend both policies invite fraud. The committee voted 6-4 to require the commission to publish the guidance as emergency rules by Feb. 9 or withdraw the guidance. Once in rule form, the committee can vote to kill the policies.

An Associated Press review of every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states former President Donald Trump lost, including Wisconsin, found fewer than 475 cases, a number so low it would have made no difference in the 2020 presidential election.

Commission spokesman Riley Vetterkind said the commission will discuss the committee’s vote at a meeting Tuesday.

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