COVID-19 Special Coverage
Wisconsin and US Supreme Courts block postponement of Wisconsin primaries
© WikiMedia (Tom Arthur)
Wisconsin and US Supreme Courts block postponement of Wisconsin primaries

On Monday night, the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked Governor Tony Evers’s emergency executive order to postpone the state’s Tuesday, April 7, primary election— mere hours after Evers signed it. Shortly after, the US Supreme Court denied an extension of absentee ballot submission deadlines. The election will go forward as planned.

In the initial order, Evers moved the elections due to COVID-19 concerns to June 9 and extended the deadline for absentee ballots until then. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-2 that Evers did not have the authority to single-handedly move the election.

The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday night on a more narrow question concerning absentee ballots. The District Court had extended the absentee ballot deadline to April 13 instead of April 7. The US Supreme Court clarified that absentee ballots postmarked by April 7 will still be counted so long as they are in by April 13, but any absentee ballots submitted after would not be counted.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, arguing that tens of thousands of voters — who had yet to receive absentee ballots due to high demand and the subsequent backlog — would be disenfranchised. She reasoned that:

The question here is whether tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens can vote safely in the midst of a pandemic…With the majority’s stay in place, that will not be possible. Either they will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others’ safety. Or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own. That is a matter of utmost importance—to the constitutional rights of Wisconsin’s citizens, the integrity of the State’s election process, and in this most extraordinary time, the health of the Nation.