(Bloomberg) – The Wisconsin area code continues as planned on Tuesday after the state’s Supreme Court blocked a last minute attempt by Governor Tony Evers to delay the personal vote by order of the executive.
The state court, which voted 4-2, agreed with Republicans, who had argued that the governor was not authorized to change the date of the election, which means that the personal vote despite his order to stay at home was due to Concern over the choice of coronavirus continues.
The ruling came hours after Evers passed an implementing regulation on Tuesday suspending personal voting and asking legislators to postpone it to June 9 or a date of their choice. The state’s republican leadership contested the order before the state’s Supreme Court and urged the district clerks to be ready for a primary school on Tuesday.
In a separate blow to Evers on Monday, the US Supreme Court reinstated a deadline for sending postal ballot papers in the area code.
The judges requested that all postal ballot papers be stamped by Tuesday, and last week rejected a district judge’s decision to extend the postal ballot by a week until April 13. This had led to several lawsuits, with the state and national GOP trying to stop the judge’s order with the last minute request to the US Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court divided ideologically, with the five Republican candidates in the majority. In an unsigned statement, they said the district judge’s order would “fundamentally change the way the election is done by voting six more days after the election”. The court’s four democratic candidates disagreed, saying that the rights of tens of thousands of people were affected.
Fifteen states and Puerto Rico have either postponed or switched to postal voting as Americans follow instructions to stay at home in a worsening coronavirus pandemic, but none has had such a dramatic battle to change votes as Wisconsin.
Evers initially spoke out against delaying the vote, but said Monday that public health concerns had caused him to change his mind. Wisconsin has more than 2,000 coronavirus cases and 73 deaths from the disease. Evers issued an order for the state to remain at home in late March.
“Honestly, there is no good answer to this problem – I wish it were easy,” said Evers on Monday when the order was announced. “I asked everyone to do their part to protect our families, our neighbors and our communities, and I hoped that lawmakers, like the rest of us, would do their part to improve people’s health and health ensure safe. “
The Wisconsin State Assembly spokesman, Robin Vos, a Republican, and his Senate counterpart, Scott Fitzgerald, said the governor has no authority to cancel the election.
“The employees of this state should be ready to continue with the elections,” said Vos and Fitzgerald in a statement. “The governor’s executive ordinance is clearly an unconstitutional overshoot.”
More than 1.2 million Wisconsin voters have requested postal voting, while polling stations have been drastically reduced.
Polling stations rely on an army of paid volunteers, often retirees. But this pool dried up amid fears of the corona virus and prompted Evers to call the national guard to help employees reach a smaller number of polling stations.
In Milwaukee, the number of polling stations has dropped from 188 to just five.
Milwaukee County administrative officer George Christenson, who assists local authorities in running elections, sends 270 National Guard members under his supervision to various cities in the county to help conduct the election.
The state election commission provides election workers with 25,000 masks, gloves, paper towels and spray bottles that are filled with disinfectants from a Madison distillery. More than 1 million black pens are distributed so that each voter can have their own pen.
Christenson said he personally drove his share of the pens – about 65,000 – through the county in his own car so he didn’t endanger any employee.
Plans to change the primary failed due to differing views on how to do it. State republicans argued that elections should only be delayed by legislative action or that the election rules should be changed, while Democrats tried to use lawsuits to force some changes. Evers finally called for a special session last weekend, but the Republicans said it was too short-term and adjourned without action.
“As a party, we have argued that this can be done in two ways: either under the law as it is currently written, or the legislator and governor could have passed a law to change it,” said Andrew Hitt, Chairman of the Republican State.
A federal judge also extended the deadline for receiving postal ballot papers from 8 p.m. on Tuesday until 4 p.m. on Monday, April 13th. The Republicans have appealed to the US Supreme Court, which is expected to announce his decision sometime on Monday.
Despite the precautionary measures, Christenson said he was frustrated with the fact that the vote could take place on Tuesday and argued that in an election with a Supreme Court candidate on the ballot, the Republicans tried to restrict democratic voices in urban areas such as Milwaukee .
“I think there is a risk of personally voting tomorrow,” he said.
(Updates to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in paragraphs 4, 5, 6)
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