Jeramey Jannene

Supreme Court Reinstates Election, Overrules Evers

April 7th in-person election will occur as scheduled says court.

By - Apr 6th, 2020 05:06 pm
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Voters at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Voters at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The April 7th Spring Election is back on.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled Governor Tony Evers‘ executive order on Monday afternoon, restoring the planned in-person election. Evers had issued an executive order mid-day Monday that postponed in-person voting until June 9th.

The court voted 4-2 to restore the election. Judges Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet, the two liberal judges on the court, were the only dissenters.

Judge Daniel Kelly, who is on the April 7th ballot, did not participate in the decision according to the court, but Kelly did tweet in favor of having the election on Tuesday.

In its announcement, the court promised to provide more comprehensive opinions in the future.

Evers, in a tweet April 1st, originally said he did not have the legal authority to halt the election. But Monday he said the facts had changed. “The situation in Wisconsin and our nation has gotten worse since I first called that special session,” said Evers. The Governor on Friday called a special session of the Legislature to convert the election to mail-in only to protect public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But only a handful of members showed up and both houses suspended their sessions after less than a minute Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos had both previously called for the election to continue as planned. “We are immediately challenging this executive order in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court,” said the legislative leaders in a statement issued shortly after Evers announced his order.

“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,” said Evers in a press release announcing the order. “But as municipalities are consolidating polling locations, and absent legislative or court action, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing. The bottom line is that I have an obligation to keep people safe, and that’s why I signed this executive order today.”

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht, based on absentee ballot requests and pre-COVID-19 projections, estimated that up to 50,000 people could vote in person in Milwaukee. Because of a shortage of over 1,000 poll workers the city has consolidated its normal slate of 180 polling sites to five. The City of Waukesha will have a single polling site. Municipalities across the state report being short almost 7,000 workers, including 100 that reported no workers at all as of last week. The Wisconsin National Guard will provide a supplemental force of poll workers, including approximately 220 members working in Milwaukee, but many municipalities will still operate fewer poll sites than originally planned or switch to drive-thru voting.

Evers’ decision, now overruled, drew praise from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele. “I believe Governor Evers firmly placed himself on the right side of public health and the right side of history,” said Barrett on Monday afternoon. “The point here is clear, this is about saving lives,” said Abele, who characterized in-person voting during the pandemic as asking people to run into a burning building.

Evers, during a press briefing after issuing his order, said he had no other legal options should the court rule against him. “I’m not game playing here. The issue for me is safety for the people of Wisconsin,” said Evers. He said he had personally talked to both Vos and Fitzgerald before issuing his order.

But Barrett, during a Milwaukee County update, said he thought Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm could still issue a public health emergency order to block in-person voting. “In-person voting would without question accelerate the spread of COVID-19 and increase cases in Wisconsin. And an increase in the number of cases would result in deaths,” said Palm during Evers’ briefing.

More about the 2020 Spring Primary

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

One thought on “Supreme Court Reinstates Election, Overrules Evers”

  1. mkwagner says:

    It is apparent that Republican desire to keep Dan Kelly, unqualified, overtly partisan judge, on the state supreme court is more important than the health of Wisconsin voters. The irony in all this is those areas most hurt by the lack of poll workers are the rural areas.

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