COVID-19 and Wisconsin Elections | WisCommunity

COVID-19 and Wisconsin Elections

March 19, 2020 - 3:42pm
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The COVID-19 outbreak is throwing elections into a turmoil in Wisconsin. Not the normal Wisconsin election turmoil, but a whole lot of complication.  

Much of the dilemma revolves around the simple question: "How do you hold an election and keep the public safe from the outbreak? " There is no easy answer to that, but people are trying. On Wednesday the State Elections Commission held an in an attempt to define the issues and to find some solutions. There were plenty of issues and a shortage of solutions. The call ranged from mundane issues of whether the state could supply hand sanitizer to the polls, to the truly painful question of whether the April 7 election could be postponed, or the law changed to extend the period of voter registration and absentee ballot requests. There were very few answers, but most of the motion on the table was approved, which included the following points:

  • The now-past deadline for registration for the April 7 election be pushed back to April 3
  • The deadline for receipt for absentee ballots be moved to 10 days after the election as long as the ballot was postmarked before  the election. Current law requires that the ballots be received by 8 PM on election day
  • Suspend the current requirement for voter id on mail-in ballots and proof of residence for voter registration

Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin said voters were put in the position of choosing "#000000; font-family: 'Sina Nova', Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 17px; background-color: initial;">between exposure to COVID-19 and disenfranchisement. "

#000000; font-family: 'Sina Nova', Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 17px; background-color: initial;"> Their intention is to have the Joint Committee on Finance give them blanket authority until the end of the year for the state legislature to intervene in any cases involving the state's election laws.  This is possible due to one of the laws passed in the lame-duck session after Gov. Evers was elected. The law gives the legislature broad authority to intervene in some cases because the Republicans did not trust Attorney General Josh Kaul to defend state law adequately in some cases.

#000000; font-family: 'Sina Nova', Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 17px; background-color: initial;">As things stand it appears likely that the election will go on as originally planned. If you are concerned about your ability to vote in person consider applying for an absentee ballot. This is still possible until April 2 assuming you are already registered to vote. If you are not registered to vote you will still be able to register at the polls on April 7 assuming that the state is not put into a complete lockdown. You may register for an absentee ballot at https://myvote.wi.gov but please be cognizant of the fact that clerks throughout the state are reeling under an unprecedented number of absentee ballot requests. Today is better than tomorrow.

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