Earlier today, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) issued an executive order postponing the Wisconsin spring election from tomorrow until June 9. Previously, Evers claimed that he did not have the authority to do so. Notably, this is an executive order directly from Evers, and not an emergency order issued through the Department of Health Services.
The leaders of the Legislature, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R), released a joint statement promising an immediate appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Vos and Fitzgerald noted that Evers had earlier claimed he did not have the authority to move the election, and that the federal judge that had earlier issued a ruling allowing for the late arrival of absentee ballots said he did not have the authority to move the election.
Reading over the order, it appears to be a “clean” delay, as opposed to the proposed legislation Evers had sent over to the Legislature on Friday. It provides that in-person voting is to be delayed until June 9, subject to a further act of the Legislature, that absentee ballots already cast are still valid, that absentee ballot requests be honored until 5 pm June 4 (which matches current state law requirements), and that said absentee ballots must be at the polling place by 8 pm June 9 (which also matches current state law requirements).
It further provides that the current office-holders are to remain in office until 3 days after the election is certified at the applicable level of government, with the new terms expiring as though their start had not been delayed. It does not directly distinguish between local office-holders, whose terms are set to expire later this month, and judges and the Supreme Court justice, whose terms expire on August 1.
It also calls for another special session of the Legislature to commence at 2 pm tomorrow for the sole purpose of considering legislation to set a new in-person voting date for the spring election. Related to that, the two houses of the Legislature, once again with essentially-empty chambers, adjourned until Wednesday the previous special session to consider Evers’ earlier, broader proposal to move to a fully-mail-in election for both the spring election and the May 12 special general election for the 7th Congressional District seat.
Update (Ed): Nice try, ruled the Wisconsin supreme court:
NEWS: Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects Gov. Evers attempt to postpone election. pic.twitter.com/DHfgeERWAi
— Jason Calvi (@JasonCalvi) April 6, 2020
Looks like Evers was correct the first time — he doesn’t have the authority to do this. The state legislature has to act to postpone an election.