Wisconsin Primary Goes On As Planned After Conservative Court Blocks Order Postponing Election
Wisconsin voters will have to cast their ballots today after the state Supreme Court blocked Democratic Gov. Tony Evers‘ executive order to postpone the election until June due to concerns over the coronavirus.
“Thousands will wake up and have to choose between exercising their right to vote and staying healthy and safe,” Evers said in a statement after the court ruled against delaying the election. “In this time of historic crisis, it is a shame that two branches of government in this state chose to pass the buck instead of taking responsibility for the health and safety of the people we were elected to serve.”
Evers initially hesitated to use an executive order to delay the primary, but changed his mind Monday because he was advised by experts that there was “not a sufficiently safe way to administer in-person voting.”
“I cannot in good conscience allow any types of gathering that would further the spread of this disease and to put more lives at risk,” Evers said after signing the order. “I have been advised by public health experts at the Department of Health Services that despite the heroic efforts and good work of our local election officials, poll workers, and national guard troops, there is not a sufficiently safe way to administer in-person voting tomorrow.”
Wisconsin currently has over 2,000 reported COVID-19 cases and 83 related deaths, the majority of which are in Milwaukee.
Evers issued a “stay at home” order at the end of March to slow the spread of the virus — an order that will largely have to go ignored today if residents wish to vote in-person.
The order was a test of the governor’s power against its GOP-controlled judicial system, and several Republicans resented the prospect of the Democratic governor wielding that much power.
“The state’s highest court has spoken: the governor can’t unilaterally move the date of the election,” the state’s Republican legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, said in a joint statement.
Shortly after the Wisconsin ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision that had given voters an additional six days to cast absentee ballots. The decision, which applies to Wisconsin, states only ballots postmarked by Tuesday and arriving by April 13 will be counted.