In scathing court filing, Evers reiterates call to extend deadline to Nov. 9.
Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday asked the US Supreme Court to allow absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, to be counted as late as Nov. 9.
Evers’ request comes a week after a three-judge panel on the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a lower federal district court’s ruling that would have extended the ballot-counting deadline to Nov. 9. The suit’s original plaintiffs, including the Democratic National Committee, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, and Disability Rights Wisconsin, asked the nation’s highest court on Tuesday to take up the issue, and Evers’ request was an amicus brief filed in support of the request.
“Without the district court’s injunction, untold numbers of Wisconsin voters will be faced with the choice between voting in person and their health—or potentially their lives,” Evers’ brief reads.
Justices on the Supreme Court granted such an extension for the April 7 election, allowing until Apr. 13 for mailed ballots to be counted as long as they were postmarked by Apr. 7. The extension in April meant election results were not made public until nearly a week after the election. Evers said in a Thursday call with reporters he hopes to get election results on Election Day or the day after. However, delayed results appear likely again whether the extension is granted or not.
Democrats who initially requested the deadline extension for the presidential election argued it was necessary to accommodate a surge of mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the calls became more urgent after President Donald Trump and Postmaster Louis DeJoy’s attempts to slow down the US Postal Service were revealed.
The Republican National Committee, state Republican Party, and Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature, which has not passed a bill in over 180 days, successfully got the order blocked in the 7th Circuit.
“The injunction is necessary to protect the First and Fourteenth Amendment right to vote, avoid voter confusion and disenfranchisement, and save Wisconsin lives,” Evers argued. “The Seventh Circuit’s stay must be vacated.”
Evers also tore into the absentee Legislature in his filing.
“To be clear, the Wisconsin Legislature has done nothing to address the state’s worsening public health crisis and its potential impact on the voting rights of Wisconsin’s citizens,” the filing reads. “The Wisconsin Legislature has neither convened any study committees nor held any hearings on the safety of in-person voting during the pandemic, the effective staffing of polls during a pandemic, or whether statutes should be modified to protect the constitutional rights of Wisconsin citizens. In fact, the Legislature has not enacted legislation of any kind since April 14, 2020—a six month period of inaction.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s (R-Juneau) complete inaction has led the Wisconsin Legislature to become the least-active full-time state legislative body in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to analysis by WisPolitics.
And yet between the absentee ballot extension and other election-related litigation, the Legislature under Vos and Fitzgerald has spent $1.9 million of taxpayer money on attorneys to fight changes that would make voting more accessible during the pandemic.