Gov. Evers suspends in-person voting, calls Special Session on Tuesday

Ruben Fields
April 6, 2020

Just last week a federal judge said he did not have the power to cancel the election and Governor Evers doesn't either.

The election features the Democratic presidential primary between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, but a bigger concern for Republicans is a high-stakes state Supreme Court race featuring a conservative incumbent against a liberal challenger.

Leaders in the Republican-controlled legislature have said that moving the voting date so late in the process would sow confusion and create a leadership vacuum in cities and towns holding contests for municipal posts that will be vacant as early as mid-April.

Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler was among those on social media who warned that the state Republicans' maneuver over the weekend is likely a preview of the GOP's tactics on a national scale during this year's general election.

Evers, a Democrat, had resisted changing the date of the primary because many local offices on the ballot have terms that start in April.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called a special session for Saturday and asked Republicans to shift the election to all-mail with absentee voting into late May.

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"Today, I signed an executive order suspending in-person voting for tomorrow's election. The governor himself has repeatedly acknowledged he can't move the election", they said in the statement. Milwaukee, the state's largest city with almost 600,000 people, is expected to have just five polling locations open instead of its usual 180.

For the first time in almost 25 years in his role, he is not encouraging people to vote in person, which "flies in the face of everything I believe in". "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 statement Monday.

"Specifically, we need you to step up and stop the State of Wisconsin from putting hundreds of thousands of citizens at risk by requiring them to vote at the polls while this ugly pandemic spreads".

"Your failure to address these profound issues and the safety of all of Wisconsin's residents during yesterday's special session is unconscionable and is an abdication of your constitutional responsibilities as our leaders", said Ann S. Jacobs and Mark L. Thomsen in a letter to Fitzgerald and House Speaker Robin Vos (R).

Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich applauded the governor's order.

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