Wisconsin Supreme Court Blocks Governor’s Order to Postpone Primary

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is ordering the state’s primary election and down ballot elections to proceed as originally scheduled.

The court ruled in a 4-2 vote on Monday afternoon that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) cannot postpone the primary with an executive order.

One day before residents of Wisconsin were set to go to the polls for that state’s presidential primary, Evers signed an executive order postponing in-person voting until June 9.

In recent days, Wisconsin officials had been under pressure to postpone the state’s primary, as other states have done. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) also called on the state to delay its primary. 

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.”

Wisconsin Republican officials filed a lawsuit with the court on Monday arguing, “The governor does not have constitutional or statutory authority to modify, suspend or otherwise alter the statutes. Nor does the governor have the constitutional or statutory authority to set the time, place and manner of elections.”

The court ruling means that the elections will continue as originally scheduled.

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.”

Wisconsin 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 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.

Responses

  1. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) should be held accountable (charged) for any deaths related to these bozos forcing this election to go ahead, just so that they can maintain their advantage in the courts.

  2. cynically speaking, delays in primary voting favor the spins imparted by the candidates about the current “crisis”, whether on public health or the economy. It gives more time to sell whatever messages they choose.

    Many states vote by mail. Others have electronic means, which should be certified federally as an option. No more hanging chads, ballots “discovered” in car trunks, etc., dead people voting.

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