Update Monday, April 6, 2020: Update: Governor can't postpone April 7 election, Wisconsin Supreme Court rules
Wisconsin lawmakers took no action and quickly adjourned a special session Saturday, April 4. The session was called by Gov. Tony Evers in a bid to change voting procedures on the eve of Tuesday's spring election and presidential preference primary.
The state's Democratic governor urged the Senate and Assembly to pass legislation to move the April 7 election to mail-in ballots only, as well as extend the deadline for receiving completed ballots to May 26. The measures would follow social distancing guidelines amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic and avoid the risk of spreading the new coronavirus at polling places.
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Evers issued the following statement Saturday afternoon:
“Republicans in the Legislature are playing politics with public safety and ignoring the urgency of this public health crisis. It’s wrong. No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote. Being a good leader means listening to the experts, being willing to adjust our course based on the science, and making the tough decisions necessary to protect the people of our state.
“This, however, is an easy decision. It's time for every Republican legislator to do their jobs and take a vote on this commonsense proposal to extend the election date so everyone can vote safely from home. I urge every Wisconsinite to contact their legislators and demand a vote.”
The Wisconsin Republican Party has rejected calls to change election procedures, including appealing a federal judge's April 2 ruling to allow absentee ballots to be counted up to six days after the April 7 election.
"Such a substantial decision normally left to our elected officials requires review of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals," Wisconsin GOP Chairman Andrew Hitt said in a statement following the judge's order. "We hope the appeals courts defers to the Wisconsin legislative and executive branches and stays the district court's decision."
Evers directed the state health department on March 24 to issue a Safer at Home order prohibiting non-essential travel in response to COVID-19. There have been 2,112 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness in the state and 56 deaths as of Saturday, April 4, according to the state health department.
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