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Wisconsin governor suspends state, local & primary elections over coronavirus concerns despite lacking authority

Wisconsin governor suspends state, local & primary elections over coronavirus concerns despite lacking authority
Because of Covid-19, in-person voting in Wisconsin’s elections will be postponed to June 9, Governor Tony Evers said in an executive order. His admitted constitutional overreach has sparked a furious partisan backlash.

Mailed-in ballots will still be counted, Evers said on Monday in a controversial decision he admitted he had no powers to actually make, but insisting that it had to be done as a matter of public health.

“The people of Wisconsin, they don’t care about the fighting between Democrats and Republicans – they're scared," Evers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

Republicans, who hold the majority in the state legislature, reacted to the decision by filing a legal challenge before the state supreme court, saying that the governor had no authority to cancel or postpone elections. 

Evers has previously admitted as much, but has been under growing pressure over the past week from the rank-and-file Democrats who pointed out that in-person voting – combined with a drastic reduction in the number of polling places due to the pandemic – would lead to widespread infection.

On Friday, the governor ordered the legislature to convene for a special session and vote on postponing the elections, but the Republican majority ignored him. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos argued that the vote should proceed as normal, hundreds of thousands of essential workers still went to work every day, and “an election is just as important as getting take-out food.”

While Democrats have accused Republicans of “voter suppression” for trying to force the in-person ballot, the GOP has argued that Democrat-favored voting by mail will lead to widespread fraud.

It does not help that Wisconsin is a major swing state, with Democrats hoping to recover lost ground on the state Supreme Court and in the November general election. Many local and state offices have terms that begin in April, so the delay effectively extends the incumbents’ terms. 

Also on rt.com Covid-19 unites Democrats & Republicans: Most voters want primaries postponed

Other US states have opted to delay their primaries and local elections – most notably Louisiana, which announced that decision on March 13. Ohio followed suit on March 17, even as Illinois, Arizona and Florida went ahead with the primaries scheduled that day. 

As of Monday, Wisconsin has registered 2,440 positive tests of Covid-19, of which there were 668 hospitalizations and 77 deaths.

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