Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin GOP Leaders Make No Election Changes in Special Session

And appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to block absentee balloting extension.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Apr 4th, 2020 06:03 pm
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Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald.

Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald.

Republican legislative leaders immediately adjourned a special session called by Gov. Tony Evers to consider a plan to conduct the spring election by mail, and appeal other election changes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Evers, a Democrat, called a special session of the Legislature for 4 p.m. Saturday. By 4:05 p.m., the session was adjourned until Monday, though legislators signaled they did not plan any action then, either.

GOP Leaders Appeal To US Supreme Court

The empty legislative session follows a week of intense back and forth over how to conduct Wisconsin’s spring election, currently scheduled for Tuesday, in the midst of a pandemic.

On Friday night, a federal appeals court ruling blocked some of the election orders put in place last week by a fedearl judge, and upheld others.

Responding to state measures intended to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus, federal Judge William Conley had granted Wisconsin clerks additional time to receive and tally absentee ballots, ruling that the deadline for the ballots would be April 13 rather than the scheduled April 7 Election Day. On Friday night, the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of the order, but struck a portion that would have permitted clerks to count absentee ballots that lacked a witness signature.

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, both Republicans, issued a statement indicating they’ll seek even stricter limits on absentee balloting, as clerks across the state face the prospect of tallying more than a million absentee ballots in total.

“We accept that clerks need more time to count ballots,” the statement said. “We still have grave concerns about election security by allowing votes to be postmarked or submitted after Election Day, and plan to appeal that issue to the United States Supreme Court.”

Saturday evening, the Wisconsin GOP filed an appeal with the U. S. Supreme Court.

Neil Albrecht, director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said a reversal of the judge’s extension would have “tremendous consequence to voters across the state,” and in particular on large cities that struggled to meet the massive spike in absentee ballot requests. He pointed out that some voters waited more than a week to receive their absentee ballots.

“I don’t think they should be disenfranchised due to the dynamics of administering an election in the midst of a pandemic, and some of the slowdowns that can create,” Albrecht said on a Saturday call with reporters. “I’m hopeful this state, as it should, can move forward with that April 13 deadline” for voters to return absentee ballots.

“Any type of a reversal on that extension … would further compromise the integrity of this election,” Albrecht said.

Most municipalities in the state are experiencing shortages of poll workers, and the shortages are critical in many places, a survey by the Wisconsin Elections Commission found. The number of polling places has been severely curtailed in the state’s largest cities, raising the prospect that voters will face long lines and unsafe conditions on Tuesday.

Wisconsin GOP Leaders Take No Action On Election Changes, Seek To Block Absentee Balloting Extension was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

More about the 2020 Spring Primary

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

One thought on “Wisconsin GOP Leaders Make No Election Changes in Special Session”

  1. 45 years in the City says:

    Vos and Fitzgerald to city: “Drop Dead”

    A new low for cynical and irresponsible behavior.

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