Brown v. WEC


On March 1, 2023 Law Forward, on behalf of Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC), moved to intervene in Brown v. WEC, the latest in a long line of attacks on access to absentee voting. Brown is a two-pronged threat, weaponizing contorted and discredited interpretations of state law to 1) severely curtail the number of locations available to voters through in-person absentee voting (IPAV), and 2) hamstring the staff of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

During the 2022 election season, the City of Racine selected a number of different locations for  IPAV. After complaining about this process to the Wisconsin Elections Commission (and losing), Plaintiff Kenneth Brown sued. He asked the court to enjoin the City of Racine from deploying a robust IPAV and declare that the City of Racine’s practices are illegal.

The City of Racine is home to one of the largest concentrations of Black folks in Wisconsin. As a historical target of disenfranchisement and discrimination Black voters in Wisconsin deserve a seat at the proverbial table to fight this latest attack on voting rights. Law Forward is proud to represent BLOC – one of Wisconsin’s most powerful organizations that advocates improving the lives of Black folks in Wisconsin – in this dispute. BLOC is a key voice in the larger conversation regarding voting rights and Wisconsin’s Black community and will play a key role in litigating this lawsuit.

On October 31, 2023 Law Forward filed a Brief in Wisconsin Circuit Court. The brief argues that the plaintiff’s challenges to Wis. Stat. § 6.855 are based on misinterpretations of the statute and rely on an outdated version of the law. The defendant-intervenor, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC), requested that the court 1) affirm that WEC was right: placing alternate absentee balloting sites throughout a municipality is perfectly legal, and 2) deny the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.

Case Timeline

March 1, 2023

Motion to intervene filed.

March 15, 2023

Motion to intervene granted.

October 31, 2023

Brief filed.

January 1, 2024

In a decision that could severely curtail the number of locations available to Racine voters through IPAV, Judge Gasiorkiewicz ruled that mobile vans cannot service IPAV locations simply because the statute does not specifically outline how they are to be used. The decision threatens to confuse municipalities throughout Wisconsin as they prepare for the 2024 election cycle.

February 16, 2024

Now is not the time to be narrowing access to the ballot. The right to vote is the bedrock upon which our democracy rests, and Wisconsinites deserve full access to it.

We’ve filed a petition to bypass.

May 3, 2024

The court granted our petition to bypass.

June 3, 2024

We are dedicated to ensuring that eligible voters have accessible pathways to participate in safe, fair, and free elections. It is essential for everyone to recognize their fundamental right to vote and adapt to any potential process changes, and that’s what we argued in our brief to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

June 11, 2024

The Wisconsin Supreme Court grants a partial stay of the Racine County Circuit Court order.

Voting Rights

Racine County Circuit Court