Evers calls for election extension, legislators rebuff him

    Gov. Tony Evers addresses media and the public during a COVID-19 briefing via phone on 03/24/20.
    Gov. Tony Evers addresses media and the public during a COVID-19 briefing via phone.

    Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order on Friday, calling a special session of the Legislature on Sat., April 4, 2020 at 4 p.m., to take up legislation allowing an all-mail election, to send a ballot to every registered voter who has not already requested one by May 19, and to extend the time for those ballots to be received to May 26. 

    “Your efforts to maintain social distancing, the sacrifices you have made when it has come to your jobs, your schooling and your day-to-day activities are what we need to flatten the curve to protect the people of our state,”  Evers said in a video addressing Wisconsinites. “It’s also what we need to do to support our healthcare workers who are making heroic efforts to test, treat, and prevent this virus. At the same time, we also have to be patient with ourselves and each other because we’re all doing this for the very first time.” 

    “I am calling the Legislature into a special session to do its part — just as all of us are — to help keep our neighbors, our families and our communities safe,” Evers added.

    Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) released a statement calling it “disappointing that Gov. Evers has flip-flopped” on the issue of holding the election.

    “In a crisis, people look for certainty. In elections during uncertain times, it’s important that no one questions the process,” they stated.

    “If the governor had legitimate concerns, we could have come to a bipartisan solution weeks ago. This discussion would have happened long before today. The only bipartisan discussion we’ve had was to ensure the election would continue safely and to maximize the opportunity to vote absentee,” Fitzgerald and Vos added.

    “Unfortunately, it’s this type of feckless leadership Wisconsin has come to expect of the governor in the face of this crisis.” 

    The legislative leadership concluded by reiterating their support for a regular, in-person election  on April 7: “We continue to support what Governor Evers has supported for weeks: the election should continue as planned on Tuesday.”

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine, and opened the Progressive’s office in Washington, DC, during the Clinton Administration, where she made her debut as a political pundit on CNN’s Capital Gang Sunday and Fox News. She moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, for a year in 2017, where she covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Donald Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on All in with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, and other radio and television programs. In 2011, she did award-winning coverage of the uprising against Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Conniff graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal.