One day before residents of Wisconsin were set to go to the polls for that state’s presidential primary, Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed an executive order postponing in-person voting until June 9.
In a statement on Monday, Evers announced that he decided to delay voting, “Today, I signed an executive order suspending in-person voting for tomorrow’s election.”
He continued, “Frankly, there’s no good answer to this problem—I wish it were easy […] 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.”
Evers said that he had hoped the state legislature would have passed legislation allowing an all mail-in ballot election with an extended time for the ballots to be received and counted. However, the legislature rejected that legislation.
The decision mirrors a similar decision by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R ) to postpone his state’s primary date.
Both Evers and DeWine had previously said they did not have the power to move the date of the primary unilaterally. However, after the legislatures and courts refused to move the primary dates, both governors took steps to delay the primary.
On Monday, Evers said, “It could end up in the Supreme Court yet today, but the bottom line is the people of Wisconsin they don’t care about the fighting between Democrats and Republicans — they’re scared.”
He added, “I’m standing up for them. I’m standing up for those people who are afraid, and that’s why I’m doing this.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) issued a joint statement on the matter, “The clerks of this state should stand ready to proceed with the election. The governor’s executive order is clearly an unconstitutional overreach.”
The statement continued:
“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 Governor Evers doesn’t either. Governor Evers can’t unilaterally run the state.”
The move to delay Wisconsin’s primary comes as the country’s top health officials have urged Americans to stay home and follow the social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, the number of deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 10,000, and there were 347,003 confirmed cases.