Wisconsin governor tries to force GOP to delay election as pandemic rages

On Friday, Politico reported that Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) is calling an emergency special session of the Wisconsin General Assembly, where he will pressure GOP officials to delay the state's election date to May 26, switch to all-mail voting, and send ballots to every registered voter who has not requested one.


This effort, intended to protect voters from coronavirus, comes after a federal judge in Wisconsin denied the request of voting rights activists to push back the date of the primary — but extended the request deadline for absentee ballots, loosened requirements to obtain one, and ordered the state to accept ballots postmarked before Election Day.

If the election moves forward as planned, voters will not only face risk in voting in person next Tuesday, but long lines, as there are critical polling worker shortages in counties across the state.

Until this point, Evers had not taken a position on moving back the primary, but called for all registered voters to be sent an absentee ballot. The GOP has refused, with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald calling the proposal a "complete fantasy," and siding with the defendants in the lawsuit to try to postpone the election date. They also intend to appeal the expansion of absentee voting.

Adding to the stakes is that Wisconsin will also be holding an election for the state Supreme Court on the same day as the primary, with Daniel Kelly, an appointee of former GOP Gov. Scott Walker, seeking a full term against progressive challenger Jill Karofsky. Democrats fear that Kelly, who has recused himself from a recent voter purge case, could be emboldened to rule in favor of clearing the rolls if he wins, suppressing votes in November in a critical state.