• Thomas Parker

Supreme Courts overrule Wisconsin governor, say election must continue

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers issued a last-minute executive order on Monday afternoon postponing the state's election to June 9, citing a risk to public health due to the novel coronavirus. But the state Supreme Court overruled the governor just hours later in a 5-4 decision.

On Friday, Evers had called on the state legislature to halt in-person voting and change voting to mail-in only. A federal judge had refused to postpone the election a day prior, but extended the deadline to submit absentee ballots to April 13. The Supreme Court of the U.S. overturned that decision.


The dissenting justices said the decision will result in "massive disenfranchisement" of tens of thousands of voters who do not want to show up in person out of fear of the coronavirus. The justices did not make it clear why that fear would result in a partisan disenfranchisement, however.


The majority opinion cited the fact that the plaintiffs asked and received an extension from April 4 to April 7, but did not request an additional extension that the lower court decided. They also said that voting by mail has been open for several weeks and that five times as many absentee ballots have been cast in the current election than had been cast in 2016.


The Wisconsin election includes a primary between former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, hundreds of down-ballot offices, and a seat on the state Supreme Court.


Top state-level Republicans in Wisconsin praised the state Supreme Court's decision to prohibit a postponement of the election.


"The state's highest court has spoken: the governor can't unilaterally move the date of the election," said state House Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.


Governor Evers called the decisions "a shame."


"In this time of historic crisis, it is a shame that two branches of government in this state chose to pass the buck instead of taking responsibility for the health and safety of the people we were elected to serve," he said.

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