Wisconsin governor urges legislature to allow all-mail primary in May

Wisconsin governor urges legislature to allow all-mail primary in May
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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) urged the state legislature Friday to allow all-mail voting for the state’s primary and accept ballots that are cast through most of next month amid fears about the spread of the coronavirus.

Evers announced he is signing an executive order calling the state legislature to meet for a special session Saturday to consider legislation to send ballots to all registered voters through the mail. The ballots would be mailed to those who have not requested one by May 19 and would extend the time for the ballots to be received to May 26.

The Badger State’s primary is currently slated to be held on Tuesday despite concerns about the risks of in-person voting because of the pandemic.

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“I urge the legislators to take this call for a special session seriously. They must do their part to ensure public safety by convening in special session tomorrow to take an up-or-down vote to send a ballot to every registered voter by May 19 who hasn’t already requested it, and to extend the time for those ballots to be received by May 26,” Evers said in a video to Wisconsinites. 

The signing of the executive order is the latest development in the controversy over Wisconsin’s primary.

Evers has faced calls from both parties to move the primary, though he has maintained he does not have the sole authority to move it. 

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“We have three branches of government to ensure a system of checks and balances, and questions about our elections typically rely on all three playing a role. If I could have changed the election on my own I would have, but I can’t without violating state law,” Evers said this week. 

Evers has received pushback from some members of his own party, who say that holding the primary as scheduled will put voters in danger.

“I don’t think that it’s good public policy, I think it’s dangerous during a pandemic. And I hope that people do not go to the polls on Tuesday,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), who is up for reelection, said this week.

The controversy over the primary has wound its way to federal court, where a district judge ruled Thursday that it is "beyond the power of this court" to change the date of the election, though he ordered that absentee voting be extended to April 13.

A handful of states have delayed their primaries amid the coronavirus fears. The Badger Stater has more than 1,750 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 29 reported deaths.