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Update: Tuesday Voting Back On After Supreme Court Blocks Evers’ Order

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In-person voting will go forward in Wisconsin on Tuesday, despite an attempt by Gov. Tony Evers to delay the election through executive order.

The state Supreme Court sided with legislative Republicans late Monday afternoon, saying Evers doesn’t have the power to halt the election.

Less than 24 hours before polls were scheduled to open for Tuesday’s elections, Evers tried to stop in-person voting by issuing the executive order.  In a briefing, Evers said it was too dangerous to move forward in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We expect more cases.  We expect more deaths.  We expect more tragedies.  With that in mind, I cannot, in good conscience, allow any types of gatherings that would further the spread of this disease and put more lives at risk,” he said Monday.

The order would have moved in-person voting to June 9 and extended the window for voters to request and return absentee ballots.

Almost immediately, legislative Republicans challenged the order in the state Supreme Court, saying Evers’ action was an unconstitutional overreach.

"The state’s highest court has spoken: the governor can’t unilaterally move the date of the election," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said after the court's ruling. “The safety and health of our citizens have always been our highest concern; that’s why we advocated for everyone to vote absentee."

Evers had previously said he didn’t think he had the power to unilaterally stop in-person voting.  He called the legislature into a special session over the weekend, urging them pass a bill altering the election.  But the Republican-led legislature was in session for just seconds before adjourning and keeping Tuesday’s election on track.

On Monday, Evers tried what he admitted was his last option: issuing the executive order.  It was supported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

“In-person voting would, without question, accelerate the transmission of COVID-19 and increase the number of cases.  An increase in the number of cases in Wisconsin would result in more deaths,” said the department’s secretary-designee, Andrea Palm.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority sided with Republicans in blocking Evers’ order and forcing the election forward.

Even before the court’s decision, Wisconsin’s top election official was telling clerks to continue preparing for in-person voting Tuesday.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission plans to have several measures in place in an attempt to keep people safe from COVID-19, said administrator Meagan Wolfe.

“Voters, please, when you go to the polls [Tuesday], understand things will look a little bit different,” she said.  “There will be different procedures than you’re used to.  Please follow the direction of your poll workers.  The procedures that they’re prescribing are there to help keep you and them safe.”

Lines on the floors will show people how to stay six feet apart.  Voters will show their ID by putting it on a table, then backing away as a poll worker checks it.  Some polling places may have plexiglass between voters and poll workers.

About 2,500 members of the National Guard will serve as poll workers to help fill a void statewide.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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