Governor postpones Spring Election over COVID-19.

  • Post Author
    by News director
  • Post Date
    Mon Apr 06 2020
Governor Evers delayed the Spring Election via executive order. Photo of Governor Evers: Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, licensed under Creative Commons. Graphic: Sam Buisman

Author: Sam Buisman

Governor Tony Evers postpones Wisconsin's Spring Election to June 9 to protect Wisconsinites from COVID-19.

Through an executive order issued Monday afternoon, Governor Evers delayed the election, originally scheduled for April 7, to the summer in fear of jeopardizing public health and overwhelming the state's electoral system by holding it amidst the coronavirus crisis.

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

The order notes that all absentee ballots already cast in the Spring Election will remain valid and that to accommodate the changed date, election clerks will continue to issue absentee ballots until June 4. The executive order also authorizes officeholders currently serving in an office up for contest in the Spring Election to hold that office until after the election is held.

State Republicans lashed out against the Governor's order and immediately challenged it in Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

“The clerks of this state should stand ready to proceed with the election,” Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a joint statement. “The governor's executive order is clearly an unconstitutional overreach.”

In previous public statements, Evers has said that he does not have the authority to change the date of the election and that it is the legislature's responsibility to do so. However, Evers' order comes after a fruitless appeal to the legislature over the weekend to enact an all-mail election.

Throughout this chaos, voting officials have faced near-insurmountable difficulties in running the Spring Election during the coronavirus crisis. Wisconsin's National Guard announced that it would help staff polling places after almost 60% of Wisconsin municipalities reported poll worker shortages, with 111 jurisdictions being unable to staff even one polling place. Additionally, election workers have already been overwhelmed with over 1.2 million absentee ballot requests, likely more than the state has ever had.

WSUM will continue following this story and will issue updates as they emerge.