After several days of legal wrangling and court challenges, the Wisconsin primary is moving forward as planned today with in-person voting and an extended absentee deadline. Precautions are being taken at polling locations to enforce social distancing rules and protect poll workers as much as possible, but a precarious situation remains on the ground in the Badger State.
The Democratic Governor of the state, Tony Evers, had attempted to postpone voting, issuing an order on Monday, but Republicans in the state legislature fought those attempts and eventually a court ruled that primary voting would go forward because the Governor lacked authority to issue an order or postponement.
In a nod toward concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the court did extend the deadline for absentee ballots by six days, until April 13.
Poll Closing Times
(All Times Eastern)
9:00 pm – Wisconsin
Democratic delegates at stake: 84
Republican delegates at stake: 62
Polls close by 9 pm ET in Wisconsin
Absentee Ballots: According to a court ruling, absentee ballots must be postmarked by April 7 and received by April 13 in order to be counted.
2016 contest winners: Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary, and Ted Cruz won the Republican primary
Gov. Tony Evers had attempted to unilaterally postpone the primary to a date in June citing health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans in the state responded by taking the issue to court and eventually prevailed, per WISN.com:
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled Gov. Tony Evers cannot postpone Tuesday’s primary election.
Evers issued an executive order Monday delaying Wisconsin’s primary election until June 9 amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus.
Republicans filed a motion asking the court to grant an emergency restraining order prohibiting Evers’ order be carried out.
“The state’s highest court has spoken: the governor can’t unilaterally move the date of the election,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said in a joint statement. “We are proud that Wisconsinites have come together to meet the challenges that this pandemic has created. The safety and health of our citizens have always been our highest concern; that’s why we advocated for everyone to vote absentee. Wisconsin has responded in droves. Over a million ballots have been requested for tomorrow’s election. We continue to believe that citizens should be able to exercise their right to vote at the polls on Election Day, should they choose to do so.”
That motion was granted late Monday afternoon by a vote of 4-2 that Evers lacked the authority to move the election on his own.
Beyond the Democratic primary voting between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, Republicans, and President Trump, also have an interest in the outcome today:
Voters will decide on Tuesday the state’s Democratic presidential primary between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as a general elections for a state Supreme Court seat and a host of local offices.
President Donald Trump has endorsed Justice Daniel Kelly, a conservative on a court where Republicans currently hold a 5-2 majority.
The court is currently deadlocked 3-3 on a voting rights case that could result in 240,000 people being removed from Wisconsin’s voter rolls ahead of November’s election. Kelly’s seat could represent the deciding vote, and Kelly has abstained from voting ahead of the spring election.
The State Supreme Court seat is a special election and has been drawing interest from Trump supporters due to the ramifications it could have for the November election. Naturally, then, Democrats are interested in it too and it could be much more consequential than the Biden/Sanders battle.
The Wisconsin results could be somewhat delayed depending on how many voters opt to vote by absentee instead of showing up to vote in person.