In the 11th hour, Wisconsin moved its primary election from Tuesday (April 7), when it was previously scheduled.
Governor Tony Evers announced on Monday (April 6) that the state will be halting in-person voting and pushing statewide and local elections to June 9 due to coronavirus concerns, POLITICO reported. Wisconsin joins over a dozen other states that have postponed their primary elections to avoid spreading COVID-19, according to the New York Times.
“Today, I signed an executive order suspending in-person voting for tomorrow’s election,” Evers said in a press release. “Frankly, there’s no good answer to this problem — I wish it were easy.”
The Democratic governor’s decision to postpone the election is expected to be met with blowback from the Republican-controlled state legislature, which already chose not to postpone the election during a special session last week.
“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,” Gov. Evers said in the press release. “But as municipalities are consolidating polling locations, and absent legislative or court action, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing.”
Republican state House Speaker Robin Vos and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald argue that “an election is just as important as getting take-out food,” and that new leaders must continue to be elected in order to “swiftly respond to the crisis at hand.” According to Sam Levine, a voting rights reporter for The Guardian, Wisconsin Republicans have already filed a motion in the state’s Supreme Court in an attempt to stop Evers’ executive order.
However, Evers and other Democrats argue that allowing people to vote in person would not only put people at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 (and go against the state-wide ban on gatherings of 10 or more people) but would also hurt voter turnout.
“The bottom line is that I have an obligation to keep people safe, and that’s why I signed this executive order today,” Gov. Evers said.
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