The Wisconsin Supreme Court just thwarted Democrats’ plan to postpone regularly-scheduled elections. If they had been allowed to set a precedent, it could potentially have affected the Presidential election in November.
Conveniently Changing His Mind
On Monday, April 6th, Wisconsin’s Governor, Tony Evers, announced that he was postponing Tuesday’s state elections until June 9th. Using the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic as an excuse, Evers said, “I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing. The bottom line is that I have an obligation to keep people safe, and that’s why I signed this executive order today.”
Monday’s order was a complete reversal of the Governor’s previously-stated position. For weeks, Evers had insisted that such a move was beyond his power. Just last week, he tweeted, “If I could have changed the election on my own I would have but I can’t without violating state law.”
But perhaps Governor Evers’ eleventh-hour change of heart has less to do with public safety and more to do with the fact that the Democratic candidates for the State Supreme Court are behind in the polls.
In February’s nonpartisan open primary, popular conservative Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly comfortably beat his two liberal opponents, Democrats Jill Karofsky and Joe Fallone. Kelley pulled in 50% of the overall vote, compared to 37% for Karofsky and just 13% for Fallone.
This means the general election showdown between Kelly and Karofsky is extremely tight. If the Republican Presidential primary has a high turnout in support of Donald Trump, that could be just the edge that Kelly needs.
Overturned within Hours
The election took place on April 7th, as scheduled.
Later on Monday, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court voted 4-2 to overturn Evers’ order. As expected, the conservative justices struck down the order, while the liberal justices dissented. Justice Kelly, who is on the ballot, did not participate.
With important national implications, the U.S. Supreme Court also weighed in, ruling 5-4 that in order for a vote to count, it must be made:
- In person at a polling place.
- Via an absentee ballot that is submitted in person.
- Via an absentee ballot that is postmarked by 8 pm on Election Day.
Because 1.2 million Wisconsin residents requested absentee ballots, the deadline for state clerks to receive those ballots has been extended until 4 pm on April 13th.
Austin Chambers, President of Wisconsin’s Republican State Leadership Committee, issued a statement following the reversal:
“In words Governor Evers’ office used just days ago: ‘Democracy is essential, it must go on.’ The Wisconsin Supreme Court reaffirmed that guiding principle in its decision today, righteously protecting millions of Wisconsin voters from the Democrats’ pitiful, partisan gamesmanship – particularly that of Governor Evers’ shameless reversal from just days ago when even he said he did not have the authority to move the election. We’re pleased with the court’s decision to move forward as planned and to ensure that every Wisconsin voter has an opportunity for his or her voice to be heard.”