Democrat Governor Tony Evers attempted to stop in-person voting in the state of Wisconsin.
The order was given just hours before voters were set to head to the polls. Instead of holding the election today, Evers declared that June 9 would be the state's new election day.
But Governor Evers admitted that he alone did not have the authority to postpone the election due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It turns out he was right.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Governor Evers' executive order, and in-person voting is happening as scheduled.
New protocols are in place to make sure all voters are kept safe, including a 6 foot distance between voters waiting in line.
More details on this developing story below:
Governor Evers acknowledged that with 3 branches of government, he did not have the authority to reschedule the election itself.
Today is primary day in Wisconsin, where Democratic voters will choose between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders as their candidate for president.
It is expected that Biden will lead, but the COVID-19 pandemic has upended conventional wisdom in more ways than one.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more details on the voting fiasco in Wisconsin:
Wisconsin voters will head to the polls Tuesday after Gov. Tony Evers failed to shut down Tuesday’s election in a historic last-minute move that was swiftly rejected by the conservative majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The spring election will take place with polls opening at 7 a.m. statewide in the face of a warning from the state's top health official who said voting in person will “without question” lead to more illness and death as coronavirus spreads through the state.
Six chaotic hours on Monday during which state leaders fought in court over whether to hold the election ended with a U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring all absentee ballots to be postmarked by Tuesday, reversing a federal judge's order to extend absentee voting by a week and forcing thousands who hadn't yet received their ballots to vote in person or not at all.
"People have bled, fought, and died for the right to vote in this country. But tomorrow in Wisconsin, thousands will wake up and have to choose between exercising their right to vote and staying healthy and safe," the Democratic governor said in a statement.
"In this time of historic crisis, it is a shame that two branches of government in this state chose to pass the buck instead of taking responsibility for the health and safety of the people we were elected to serve."
But Republicans who control the Legislature and sued to block Evers' order and to bar extended absentee voting said keeping the state's election laws in place preserves democracy and ensures government at all levels continues to function.
"The state’s highest court has spoken: the governor can’t unilaterally move the date of the election," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement. "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."
The governor's order came after Evers said for weeks he wanted to keep the April 7 election in place. Meanwhile, election clerks were stuck in the middle without clear guidance the day before they were supposed to pull off an election during a pandemic.
"I am so frustrated with our entire state leadership right now I can barely stand it," Carey Danen, De Pere's city clerk, said before the Wisconsin Supreme Court's ruling. "They don’t realize the stress they’ve put us under with all of this back and forth.”
The last minute decisions have frustrated voters, and we can't blame them!
The right to vote is a fundamental right, and there are plenty of precautions that can be taken to protect voters.
The suspension of in-person voting is also seen as a move that could set the stage for mail-in ballots for the general election.
There are many legitimate fears about election integrity and voter fraud when it comes to mail-in voting.
In-person voting helps ensure that only those eligible to vote can actually cast a ballot.
The Supreme Court of the United States also weighed in on the Wisconsin election, ruling that the deadline for mailed ballots could not be extended.
Wisconsin awards 77 delegates to the winner of the primary.
While Bernie Sanders wants to postpone the race, many of his closest advisors are calling on him to drop out and to endorse Joe Biden.
Politico has more details on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Wisconsin primary:
An hour later, the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled in favor of Republicans, partially blocking a lower court's extension of the absentee ballot deadline in the state in a decision that also divided the justices ideologically.
Evers — who had previously maintained that he alone did not have the authority to postpone an election — issued his order seeking to push back the elections on Monday, saying that he was acting to reduce exposure to the virus and ease concerns among his constituents about the spread of the pandemic. Evers issued a stay-at-home order last month as part of his administration's efforts to fight coronavirus.
At a press conference before the state Supreme Court's order, Evers indicated this would be his last move to try to postpone the election. "This will be the last avenue that we’re taking," Evers said at the press conference. ”There's not a Plan B. There's not a Plan C."
Shortly after the state Supreme Court's ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballots must be postmarked by April 7 and received by 4 p.m. on April 13 to count. The high court's ruling overturns a district court's ruling from last week that ordering that ballots received by 4 p.m. on April 13 would count, regardless of when they were postmarked.
Wisconsin law typically requires that ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
While many will criticize the Supreme Court for making a "partisan" decision, the reality is the court's job is not to determine the wisdom of an issue, but the legality of the issue.
The United States Supreme Court was determining the legality and technicality of the state altering its absentee ballott process, which is written in law.
Though Justice Ginsberg was a dissenting voice, she did write that she did "not doubt the good faith of my colleagues."