The Wisconsin Voters Alliance is appealing a ruling that rejected its bid to prevent five cities from using $6.3 million in private grants to help cover the costs of running next month’s election amid a pandemic.
In a filing yesterday, the group asked federal Judge William Griesbach to issue an injunction preventing Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine from using the money while the alliance appeals.
The day before, Griesbach rejected the group’s request for a temporary restraining order. He ruled there is no explicit ban in the statutes on local governments accepting private money to run elections. With no ban in the law, Griesbach ruled he didn’t have the authority to prevent the cities from using the money.
In his decision, Griesbach wrote the group had “presented at most a policy argument” for prohibiting them from accepting the money. While the risk may be real of skewing an election by providing money only to certain areas of the state, Griesbach wrote the record shows more than 100 other Wisconsin municipalities have also benefited from the money.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life has been a major beneficiary of $400 million that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have donated to help run elections amid the pandemic, and lawsuits have been filed in other states seeking to prevent municipalities from using the money.
The group praised the ruling, saying it is “a recognition that these lawsuits are frivolous, peddle misinformation, and waste election officials’ time at the voter’s expense.”
In the new filing, the Wisconsin Voter Alliance raised many of the issues it had already put before Griesbach. That includes the group’s argument the cities don’t have legal authority under federal law to accept and use private federal election grants.