Wisconsin governor suspends in-person voting for primary
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order suspending in-person voting for the coronavirus pandemic. All votes already cast will be counted, he said., originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, and moved to delay it until June 9 due to the
The order calls for the state legislature — which has refused to take action on moving the primary — to meet for a special session on Tuesday. If it does not enact a new voting date, the primary will take place June 9.
“We expect more cases, we expect more deaths, we expect more tragedies,” Evers said at a press conference Monday. “With that in mind, I cannot in good conscience allow any type of gathering that would further the spread of this disease and to put more lives at risk.”
There has been a major shortage in poll workers, leading many communities to consolidate polling sites. Milwaukee, which usually operates 180 polling locations, is down to just five in-person voting sites.
There has also been a surge in absentee ballot requests due to coronavirus. Nearly 1.3 million people had requested absentee ballots as of Monday morning, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. A little over half of those ballots have already been returned.
The presidential primary isn’t the only contest on the ballot. Wisconsin will also be voting on a state Supreme Court seat and for local officials around the state, too.
There have been 2,389 cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin as of Monday afternoon, according to CBS Milwaukee affiliate WDJT. Seventy-nine people have died.
Evers, a Democrat, had come under increasing pressure to push the primary back amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, he said he wouldn’t act without the legislature
and on Friday, he called a special session of the Republican-led state legislature to vote on moving the primary. But both the state Assembly and Senate adjourned early Monday within seconds — and without voting, according to CBS Madison affiliate WISC.
Evers said Monday that “circumstances have changed” due to a “dramatic increase” in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths.
The state’s GOP legislative leaders said they will challenge this move in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe told poll workers to prepare for voting on Tuesday, given the legal challenges.
“The governor’s executive order is clearly an unconstitutional overreach,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement. “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.”
There haven’t been any presidential primaries since March 17, when voters in Arizona, Florida and Illinois went to the polls. In Ohio, which had originally been scheduled to vote on March 17, Governor Mike DeWine delayed the primary. Initially, DeWine said the primary would be held in June, but he has since moved to make the primary an all-mail primary on April 28.
In addition to Ohio and Wisconsin, 10 states and Puerto Rico have. The Democratic Party has postponed the convention, set to be held in Milwaukee, until August 17.