State parties offer different approaches to expanded ballot access ahead of spring election

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – A lawsuit to extend deadlines and reduce requirements for the spring election has built a party split as concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak and its effects on the April 7 contests continue.

On Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin field a lawsuit against state officials to take action to help address access to ballots amid social distancing orders.

The lawsuit calls for an immediate extension of the online voter registration deadline (that expired Wednesday), a suspension of photo ID and proof of residency requirements for absentee ballot and voter registration requests and a deadline extension for when mail-in ballots can be received.

As of now, the election is proceeding as scheduled, despite a variety of challenges that face poll workers and voters.

But democrats believe taking the actions they are asking for are necessary.

“In a pandemic, we can’t afford to put up walls that make people face unsafe decisions about how they’re going to cast their ballots on April 7,” Ben Wikler, the Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin told CBS 58.

But republicans disagree.

“Their lawsuit is not about accessibility, it’s not about fair elections in a democracy,” said Mark Jefferson, the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “It’s about rigging an election. Plain and simple. That’s all this is about.”

Jefferson said that instead of the deadline extensions and document requirements, municipal clerks across the state should immediately begin expanding in-person early voting in order to create a more level playing field.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that Wisconsin legislators hired attorneys to oppose the lawsuit.

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