The City of Green Bay has filed a lawsuit in federal court to force the state to cancel in-person voting on April 7 and instead allow clerks to mail ballots to all registered voters.  The city also asks the judge to give local clerks extra time to count all returned ballots, up to June 2. The lawsuit charges the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the governor with refusing to postpone the election or change the method of voting. The suit claims this "endangers no only the public health, but also the legitimacy of that same election process". 

The April 7 election is becoming a sticking point in many ways. In a recent conference call, the Wisconsin Elections Commission decided that they have no authority to delay the April 7 election due to the COVID virus outbreak. It is not in fact clear that the Governor has that authority either, and it is probably the case that the only way the election could be postponed would be for the state legislature to return to a special session to consider it.

Many jurisdictions will have difficulty holding the April 7 elections due to a shortage of poll workers. Many of the people who are traditionally poll workers in the state are in the at-risk age range or have health problems. Many local clerks are reporting a shortage of workers willing to work on election day who are trained for working the polls, which leaves them in a quandary since they may not be able to come up with enough workers to legally hold the election. In Green Bay only 54 of the 278 trained workers in the city have agreed to work on April 7. Only 11 of those are chief inspectors, who need to be present legally at any polling place. There are also concerns about the state's inability so far to obtain sanitation supplies for the election.

Record numbers of absentee ballots have been requested (at least double the normal number across the state), but if the election is held as normal it is likely there will be a low number of total voters, and indeed it is not clear that it will be possible to hold the election legally under current law in many areas. 

The suit is attached below.

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Association, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley



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