Federal judge rules Election Day date to remain April 7; Does allow for absentee ballot return extension

A federal judge declined to postpone this Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary due to concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.

US District Judge William Conley’s ruling does allow for an extension of the absentee ballots to be filed by 4 p.m. on April 13. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is also extended one day, which is now at 5 p.m. today.

Conley said the coronavirus is a public health issue that the state legislature and the governor have refused to accept as severe enough to stop the statewide election. He said there is no doubt that the April 7 election will create unprecendent burdens not just for aspiring voters, but also for poll workers, clerks, and indeed the state.

In his 53-page ruling, Conley wrote, “As much as the court would prefer that the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor consider the public health ahead of any political considerations, that does not appear in the cards. Nor is it appropriate for a federal district court to act as the state’s chief health official by taking that step for them.”

Concerns from state and local election officials about a possible shortage of poll workers has Governor Tony Evers stating that he would deploy the National Guard to staff polling stations.

“In the absence of the Legislature doing its part to ensure a fair and safe election, I appreciate that the court chose to implement some of the common-sense solutions that I’ve been advocating for,” Gov. Evers said. “It’s great news that Wisconsinites will have more time to request and submit a ballot and that clerks will have more time to count ballots.”