State Supreme Court blocks Evers’ attempt to postpone election
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s presidential primary election will proceed Tuesday under a 4-2 order from the state Supreme Court just hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers attempted to postpone voting because of mounting fears about the coronavirus pandemic.
After back-and-forth jockeying between Evers and the Republican Legislature over the weekend roiled the waters surrounding the vote, Evers announced unilaterally on Monday afternoon that he would postpone the election until June.
About four hours later, ruling on a Republican appeal, the high court ruled that Evers doesn’t have the authority to move the election on his own.
In reaction to the ruling, Evers issued a statement saying, in part, “There are few things we hold more sacred and that are more American than the right to vote. People have bled, fought, and died for the right to vote in this country.
The court ruling means that Wisconsin voters “have to choose between exercising their right to vote and staying healthy and safe. In this time of historic crisis, it is a shame that two branches of government in this state chose to pass the buck instead of taking responsibility for the health and safety of the people we were elected to serve.”
State Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt lauded the court’s conclusion “that election laws should not be changed on the eve of an election.”
“While some have argued that we should quickly change or circumvent our laws in a time of crisis, justifications in the moment can quickly lead us down a slippery slope that erodes our democracy,” Hitt said.
Wisconsin now is the only state with an April election scheduled that is proceeding as planned.
Many see the Badger State election as a national test case in a broader fight over voter access in the age of COVID-19 with major implications for the presidential primary contests ahead and, possibly, the November general election.
In anticipation of Tuesday’s election, more than 2,400 citizen soldiers and airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard were mobilized to state active duty Sunday to serve as poll workers, if needed.
The troops completed training, received assignments from their county or municipal clerks and began helping to set up polling places.
“While potentially serving as poll workers in this election is a new role for the Wisconsin National Guard, serving our state and civil authorities during times of need is one of our core missions,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general.
“Bringing more than 2,400 troops online in a matter of a day is no small task, but our entire team has answered the call,” Knapp said.
Guard members also assisted the Wisconsin Election Commission in advance of the election by procuring and distributing items such as hand sanitizer, wipes and spray bottles to ensure safe and sanitary polling sites.
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