Wisconsin’s Governor Postpones Election to June Over Pandemic

April 6, 2020 Updated: April 7, 2020

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Monday signed an order suspending all in-person voting for the state’s primary while pushing the date back to June 9 over fears of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” he wrote on Twitter. “The order also calls the Legislature to meet in special session tomorrow, giving them another opportunity to address the in-person election date. If they fail to act, in-person voting will occur on June 9, 2020.”

Evers said in an accompanying news conference that no Wisconsin resident should have to choose between voting and their own health as the United States is in the midst of a pandemic.

“I cannot in good conscience allow any types of gathering that would further the spread of this disease and to put more lives at risk,” he said. “I have been advised by public health experts at the Department of Health Services that despite the heroic efforts and good work of our local election officials, poll workers, and national guard troops, there is not a sufficiently safe way to administer in-person voting tomorrow.”

Previously, the governor said he didn’t have the authority to move the election. But on Monday morning, Wisconsin’s state legislature went ahead with in-person voting on Tuesday despite the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus epidemic.

Evers issued a stay-at-home order last month in Wisconsin, one of the first states to report a CCP virus case in the United States in February, as part of his administration’s efforts to deal with the pandemic. Wisconsin was the last one to hold in-person voting after all other states postponed theirs or moved to mail-in ballots.

“The virus directs us as to what our decision-making is, not human beings, and clearly I am following the science, as I always have,” he told Politico in an interview on Monday, adding that he heard residents tell him they are fearful for their safety.

State Republicans announced they would seek legal action through the Wisconsin Supreme Court to challenge Evers’ order.

Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who are both Republicans, said the order would be challenged.

“The clerks of this state should stand ready to proceed with the election,” Vos and Fitzgerald said. “The governor’s executive order is clearly an unconstitutional overreach.”

Democrats in Wisconsin have criticized Republicans for trying to force the vote to go forward. Republicans have cited the potential for voter fraud and the short timeline to fill state and local offices that are on the ballot.

Democrats have said Republicans are more interested in dampening turnout in state races, particularly for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that could be instrumental in ruling on future voting-rights cases in the battleground state crucial to November’s presidential election.

Reuters contributed to this report.