Update: Coronavirus Election Session Gavels In and Out

Republican leaders gavel in and out a special session called by the governor to address voting concerns amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The legislative leaders said they had "grave concerns" about election security, if ballots were cast after Tuesday.

By Frederica Freyberg

April 5, 2020

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Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, at a June 13, 2019 news conference.

Wisconsin Republican leaders gaveled in and immediately gaveled out Saturday, adjourning the special legislative session Gov. Tony Evers called a day earlier to conduct the spring election by mail and extend the election date.

The Legislature briefly reconvened Monday but did not take up any legislation, ensuring that Tuesday’s election would go forward as planned: voters can either cast their ballots in-person or have their absentee ballots–with a signature–postmarked by Tuesday and received by April 13. 

“Republicans in the Legislature are playing politics with public safety and ignoring the urgency of this public health crisis. It’s wrong. No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Evers wrote in a statement Saturday night.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, issued a statement saying they want stricter limits on absentee voting than those granted by a federal judge Friday, including giving clerks six additional days to receive and count absentee ballots instead of the usual election day deadline.

“We accept that clerks need more time to count ballots. We still have grave concerns about election security by allowing votes to be postmarked or submitted after Election Day, and plan to appeal that issue to the United States Supreme Court,” a statement from the leaders said.

The Assembly adjourned the special session until Monday, but no additional action is expected at that time.

The ballot for the April 7 spring election includes the Democratic presidential primary, the state Supreme Court general election, county and local races and referendum questions.

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