Officials react to Gov. Evers' order delaying presidential primary election

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order Monday, April 6, suspending in-person voting for Tuesday's election until June 9.

"Governor Evers' action today firmly places him on the right side of public health and the right side of history," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "Wisconsin citizens can be proud that he is saving lives and bolstering our democracy."

The order was immediately challenged by Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) who issued the following statements:

“We are immediately challenging this executive order in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. The clerks of this state should stand ready to proceed with the election. The governor’s executive order is clearly an unconstitutional overreach."
“This is another last minute flip-flop from the governor on the April 7th election. The governor himself has repeatedly acknowledged he can’t move the election. Just last week a federal judge said he did not have the power to cancel the election and Governor Evers doesn’t either. Governor Evers can’t unilaterally run the state.”

“It is tragic to see such a reckless disregard for the Constitution from Gov. Tony Evers who just days ago admitted he did not have the power to change the election," Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt said. "His admission will weigh heavily on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision, so we are left to conclude that the Governor is playing politics with something as precious as our democracy. The Republican Party will continue to fight for the rule of law.”

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Director of Emergency Management Christine Westrich issued an executive order Monday declaring that all municipal in-person polling places be closed Tuesday, April 7, in accordance with Evers' order, "unless the Governor or Legislature take further action or a court orders otherwise."

"Governor Evers absolutely made the right call to put the health and welfare of every Wisconsinite above politics," said Abele. "Just as the right to free speech is not limitless, the right to vote does not trump the more fundamental rights to life, health and safety. If forced to proceed with in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic, the right to vote would be elevated above the right to life, health and safety – this idea is contrary to the most basic constitutional principles.”

A letter from the Wisconsin Elections Commission to municipal and county clerks Monday said, in part, "We must continue to make preparation in earnest for tomorrow. If the election is moved to the 9th we will adjust accordingly, but all we can do today is prepare for tomorrow."

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