Wisconsin Capitol during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Nazan Gillie
The Wisconsin Legislature refused the call from Gov. Tony Evers to come into session on Saturday or Monday to address the safety issues surrounding the scheduled April 7 election, so the governor has issued an executive order to suspending in-person voting for Tuesday.
He is directing the Legislature — once again — into session on Tuesday April 7 on the topic of an election date and has said that if they do not enact legislation to change it to a new date, in-person voting will occur on June 9.
“Today, I signed an executive order suspending in-person voting for tomorrow’s election,” he said in a release accompanying Executive Order #74 “Frankly, there’s no good answer to this problem—I wish it were easy.
“I have been asking everyone to do their part to help keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe, and I had hoped that the Legislature would do its part—just as the rest of us are—to help keep people healthy and safe,” said Gov. Evers. “But as municipalities are consolidating polling locations, and absent legislative or court action, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing. The bottom line is that I have an obligation to keep people safe, and that’s why I signed this executive order today.”
The governor’s office stated that all ballots already cast in the 2020 spring election “will remain valid and will be tallied in conjunction with the new in-person voting date.”
This follows the Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate rejecting Gov. Tony Evers call to meet in special session to “provide for an all-mail Spring Election and Special Election for the 7th Congressional District during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The legislature opened and promptly closed the session in seconds on Saturday and again on Monday morning.
“Republican inaction will disenfranchise thousands of Wisconsin voters and worse, jeopardize public health,” tweeted Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling after the session failed to materialize to debate and pass any legislation. “ It’s not a matter of ‘if’ people will get sick but ‘how many.’”
Republican legislative leaders released a statement saying they will immediately appeal Evers’ order to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, calling it an “unconstitutional overreach.”
“We are immediately challenging this executive order in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court,” said Speaker Robin Vos in a statement.
“The clerks of this state should stand ready to proceed with the election. The governor’s executive order is clearly an unconstitutional overreach.
“This is another last minute flip-flop from the governor on the April 7th election. The governor himself has repeatedly acknowledged he can’t move the election. Just last week a federal judge said he did not have the power to cancel the election and Gov. Evers doesn’t either. Gov. Evers can’t unilaterally run the state.”
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