Supreme Court reinstates voting; governor decries lack of safety

Tuesday’s on again, off again election is now on.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on a 4-2 decision late Monday afternoon struck down an order issued just hours earlier by Gov. Tony Evers to suspend in-person voting scheduled for Tuesday and move the election to June 9.

Evers said he issued the order in the interest of health and safety of voters and poll workers threatened by the spread of COVID-19 on Election Day.

The order – and Evers’ ability to make it – were immediately appealed to the Supreme Court by the state’s Republican Legislative leaders, who called the move an “unconstitutional overreach.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald got the decision they desired from a state Supreme Court that voted 4-2 along ideological lines.

A short time later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all absentee ballots for the Spring Election would have to be received by local clerks on Tuesday to be counted.

That decision overturned Friday’s ruling by a federal court judge who extended the deadline for absentee ballots to be received until April 13.

The bottom line for voters is that they will have to go to their local polling place Tuesday to cast a ballot if they don’t have an absentee ballot returned to their clerk’s office by Tuesday.

Voters are advised to check with their local clerk’s office to verify locations of and process at the polls due to changes forced by coronavirus precautions.

Evers said Monday the decision to hold in-person voting runs contrary to the advice of public health officials and puts the public at risk.

“(On Tuesday) in Wisconsin, thousands will wake up and have to choose between exercising their right to vote and staying healthy and safe,” Evers, Democrat, said in a statement released by his office. “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.”

Andrew Hitt, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said Evers’ attempt to postpone the election wasted time and created confusion.

“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.

 
 

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