A coalition of groups has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to delay the April 7 election until at least after Gov. Tony Ever’s stay-at-home order expires.
The suit, filed late yesterday, also wants the deadline pushed back to June 2 for municipal clerks to count all ballots returned by mail.
It is the fourth federal suit filed seeking changes to the upcoming April 7 election due to concerns over COVID-19. Gov. Tony Evers and GOP legislative leaders have resisted calls to push back the election. Instead, they have encouraged those concerned about being exposed to coronavirus at the polls to vote absentee.
So far, a federal judge has pushed back until Monday the deadline to register online to cast a ballot in the spring election. Meanwhile, the judge in a suit filed by Green Bay said yesterday he expects to issue a ruling by Monday on the city’s request to cancel in-person voting, push back the election and allow clerks to mail ballots to registered voters.
The new suit was filed by a coalition that includes groups such as Souls to the Polls, an alliance of more than African-American church leaders in the Milwaukee area, the American Federation of Teachers and SEIU Wisconsin State Council. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, which is also a party in a separate suit challenging witness requirements for absentee ballots, is also a plaintiff.
It argues the COVID-19 pandemic is leaving municipalities “functionally unable” to comply with orders from the Wisconsin Elections Commission to conduct in-person voting at all of their polling sites due to factors such as workers who are begging off for fears of being exposed to the virus.
What’s more, the suit argues, the crush of absentee requests has resulted in long delays sending ballots to voters. This raises the potential they will be disenfranchised if they don’t return them by 8 p.m. Election Day, the plaintiffs say.
Along with pushing back the election, the suit seeks the suspension of several election laws such as voter ID until at least after Evers’ stay-at-home order ends April 24.
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