Wisconsin Republicans Oppose Voting Changes Sought Due to Virus Outbreak
The leaders of Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature told a federal judge Thursday they are opposed to a request by Democrats to amend absentee and online primary rules in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The state Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday afternoon calling for an extension of the deadline for online and by-mail voter registration; lifting requirements that voters include photo identification when applying for absentee ballots; and allowing clerks to receive absentee ballots for up to 10 days following the election.
The deadline for online and by-mail voter registration expired Wednesday; presently, absentee ballots can only be accepted until 8 p.m. on election night.
But in a letter delivered to U.S. District Judge William Conley on Thursday, Micha Tseytlin, attorney for the GOP lawmakers, said the legislature opposes changing voting rules and procedures in the midst of an ongoing election.
Tseytlin also asked the judge to take no action on the case until the attorney can prepare a formal brief laying out the legislature’s arguments.
Wisconsin’s spring election is currently scheduled for April 7. The ballot includes the presidential primary, a state Supreme Court race and races for local offices.
Prior to the delivery of Tseytlin’s letter, the Republican leaders asked members of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Organization to vote on a measure that would give lawmakers blanket authority to intervene in cases challenging the state’s election laws.
Laws that Republicans passed in December of 2018, after former Gov. Scott Walker lost re-election but before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers took office, gave the Legislature broader authority to intervene in some cases, especially those challenging state law.
But the Republicans have previously said they do not trust Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, to always adequately defend state law.
When they intervene, Republicans are able to hire private attorneys to represent the Legislature instead of deferring to Kaul — even though his office would continue to defend the state alongside the Legislature’s lawyers in any dispute.
In The News
WASHINGTON - The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has directed federal courts across the nation to conduct a search for surplus medical supplies after two Florida courts discovered such stockpiles and donated them to local hospitals. Employees in the Northern District of Florida, a court... Read More
A federal judge on Thursday refused to push back the date of Wisconsin's April 7 presidential primary despite concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. U.S. District Judge William Conley's ruling came after listening to arguments Wednesday over whether the primary should be moved while dire warnings... Read More
WASHINGTON — The rate of positive coronavirus tests suggests that the next “hot spots” could include Michigan, Connecticut, Indiana, Georgia and Illinois, White House virus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said Thursday. “We do have two states that have 35% positives. And that’s New York and... Read More
WASHINGTON — Since the novel coronavirus was first detected in the District of Columbia about a month ago, the city has requested more than 1 million N95 masks from the national stockpile. The number of these masks the city has received: 5,520. States are receiving just a fraction... Read More
WASHINGTON - A pair of veterans service organizations are calling on Congress and the National Governors Association to re-examine the nation's current medical credentialing system to allow veterans with medical experience to join in the fight against COVID-19. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America... Read More
How do you run an election in the middle of a global pandemic? Some states have postponed voting or shifted to mail-only balloting. Some states have taken both approaches. Wisconsin, the next state to head to the polls, has done neither. Tuesday’s primary will go on... Read More