Federal Judge rules April 7 election will take place but eases absentee ballot rules | WisCommunity

Federal Judge rules April 7 election will take place but eases absentee ballot rules

April 2, 2020 - 4:57pm
ballot box

US District Judge William Conley ruled today that he cannot stop or postpone the April 7 election, but he did change the rules regarding absentee ballots in several substantial ways. 

  • The deadline to request an absentee ballot online has been moved. It was previously 5 PM today, April 2, and has been extended until 5 PM on Friday, April 3. It is not clear at the moment how long it may take the staff at the Wisconsin Elections Commission to re-program the to accommodate the new cutoff date.
  • Moved the deadline to return absentee ballots to local clerks from 8 PM on Tuesday April 7 until 4 PM on April 13. 
  • Voters may remove the requirement for a witness to be ballot by including a written affirmation that they could not obtain a witness signature safely due to coronavirus fears.
  • The requirement for a Voter ID when requesting an absentee ballot remains intact. 
  • The election is still scheduled for Tuesday, April 7 but clearly there will be no final results on that date as clerks wait for the remaining ballots to come in.

Judge Conley excoriated the legislature and the governor for not taking action on the election during a crisis. #fafafa; color: ; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">"The State of Wisconsin’s Legislature and governor are not willing to step up and say there’s a public health crisis and make it absolutely clear that we should not be allowing poll workers and voters to congregate on April 7," Conley said Wednesday. On  the other hand he gave thanks to the Wisconsin Elections Commission and staff for finding as many solutions as possible under very difficult conditions.

#fafafa; color: ; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">This ruling is an attempt to salvage what can be salvaged of a very difficult situation. THe ruling came from the settlement of three separate lawsuits regarding the April 7 election. Clerks have been overwhelmed by record-breaking numbers of requests for absentee ballots (as of yesterday nearly one million absentee ballots had been requested), while municipal clerks around the state have not been able to find sufficient poll workers to run the election legally forcing the closing of many polling places, particularly in urban areas. Governor Evers has suggested mailing out absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state but suggested it so late in the game that this was an impractical solution. Easing the restrictions on absentee voting may promote enough absentee voting to lower the pressure on in-person voting on April 7.

; color: ; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">The Wisconsin Elections Commission will hold an emergency teleconference at 8 PM to discuss the changes in litigation. 

Steve Hanson
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