During the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Tony Evers Monday signed an executive order Monday suspending in-person voting for the April 7 election, moving in-person voting to June 9, 2020 The order also directs the Legislature to meet in special session on Tuesday, April 7, to address the election, according to a release from the governor’s office. Quickly, Speaker Robin Vos and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald successfully challenged governor's executive order.
The order stated if the Legislature did not enact legislation to change the new voting date, in-person voting would occur on June 9, 2020.
“Frankly, there’s no good answer to this problem—I wish it were easy. 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 Gov. Evers. “But as municipalities are consolidating polling locations, and absent legislative or court action, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing.”
All ballots already cast in the 2020 Spring election will remain valid and will be tallied in conjunction with the new in-person voting date, the release states.
The governor previously signed Executive Order #73 calling the Legislature to meet in a special session to send a ballot to every registered voter, allow an all-mail election, and extend the time for those ballots to be received and counted. The Legislature did not take up these changes in special session. Gov. Evers also proposed legislation that had several provisions aimed at making voting easier and more accessible during the public health emergency.
Shortly after the governor’s announcement Monday, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Speaker Robin Vos issued a statement indicating they would challenge the executive in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court and telling municipal clerks they should “stand ready to proceed with the election. The governor’s executive order is clearly an unconstitutional overreach.”
“The governor himself has repeatedly acknowledged he can’t move the election. Just last week a federal judge said he did not have the power to cancel the election and Governor Evers doesn’t either. Governor Evers can’t unilaterally run the state,” the joint statement says.
With Justice Daniel Kelly not participating, the Supreme Court granted a petition for leave, allowing in-person elections to continue April 7 as planned. The court did require a special session of the Legislature be convened at 2 p.m. April 7 to consider and act upon legislation to set a new in-person voting date for the 2020 spring election. Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Frank Dallett were the dissenting justices in the decision.