Wisconsin and national Republicans today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step into the fight over how absentee ballots will be handled in the state’s spring election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a federal appeals court rebuffed their request, Republicans urged the justices to stay a U.S. judge’s decision allowing absentee ballots received after Tuesday to still be counted so long as local clerks receive them by April 13.
The state and national Republican parties, along with GOP lawmakers, asked the court to issue a stay no later than Monday to ensure absentee ballots must be postmarked by Election Day to be counted.
In today’s filing, they argued, “requiring a state to permit unlimited absentee voting for almost a week after election day presents significant dangers to election integrity, voter confidence and the orderly administration of an election that already has strained state resources due to the difficult circumstances associated with COVID-19.”
U.S. Judge Wiliam Conley ordered three changes to Tuesday’s election: pushing back by one day the deadline to request an absentee ballot; extending until 4 p.m. April 13 the deadline for absentee ballots to be returned; and suspending enforcement of a state requirement that those voting absentee have a witness sign the envelope in which they return the ballot.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday rejected the GOP request to overturn the extended deadline for absentee ballots, which normally must be in by 8 p.m. on Election Day. But it also reversed Conley’s order on witness signatures.
Conley issued the orders after chiding the gov and lawmakers for not pushing back the election in light of the pandemic, though he added it wasn’t his place to do so. His order is also meant to account for the now more than 1.2 million absentee ballots that have been requested. That number now exceeds the number of votes cast overall in last year’s state Supreme Court race.
In today’s filing, Republicans argued the issue of late-arriving “ballots is premature and could be addressed when and only if the predicted mail delays actually materialize.”
Spokeswoman Courtney Beyer said the No. 1 priority for the state Dem Party is the health and safety of Wisconsinites.
“Republicans would rather cheat and suppress their way to victory than see a safe and fair election for Wisconsin voters. It’s that simple,” she said.