Wisconsin Moves Ahead With Election, Awaits Supreme Court


(Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin moved forward Monday with plans to hold in-person voting for its presidential primary on Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic with help from National Guard members staffing the polls, even as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether to intervene.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who had originally pushed for the election to proceed as planned, on Friday changed course and asked the Republican-controlled Legislature to extend absentee voting until May 19 and have it all be done by mail. Republicans ignored the request.

The Wisconsin election is being viewed as a national test case in a broader fight over voter access in the age of coronavirus with major implications for the presidential primary contests ahead — and possibly, the November general election.

While several states had scheduled primaries in recent weeks, Wisconsin is alone in moving ahead with in-person voting in the midst of the pandemic.

Republicans have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that it not allow absentee ballots to be counted beyond Tuesday. The court was considering whether to take action.

Mayors across the state, including Democrats in Wisconsin’s two largest cities of Milwaukee and Madison, have urged Evers not to hold the election out of public safety concerns. Evers has said he doesn’t have the legal authority to do that and has instead called on the Legislature to make it a mail-in election as was done in Ohio.

As of Monday morning, a record-high 1.2 million absentee ballots had been requested and more than 724,000 had been returned. Democrats fear that if the Supreme Court reverses the judge’s ruling, and cuts short the amount of time those ballots can be returned and still counted, thousands of voters will be disenfranchised and not have their votes counted.

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