Evers said in a statement that he could not “in good conscience and do nothing” as the state prepared to crush voters at the polls despite warnings from public health officials that people should not gather in public spaces.
Evers has postponed the date for the in-person vote until June 9 and has stated that all correspondence and correspondence ballots sent so far will be counted.
The governor has ordered the Wisconsin state legislature to convene a special session on Tuesday to deal with the fallout from his decree, which could result in temporary vacancies for municipal seats across the state.
“Frankly, there is no right answer to this problem – I wish it was easy,” said Evers. “I asked everyone to do their part to keep our families, neighbors and communities safe, and I hoped the Legislative Assembly would do its part – as did the rest of them us – to help keep people healthy and safe. “
“The bottom line is that I have an obligation to protect people, and that is why I signed this decree today,” he added.
The Wisconsin Republicans immediately challenged Evers’ decision in court. Evers had previously stated that he did not have the power to change the elections without violating state law.
“The governor’s decree is clearly constitutional in scope,” said Speaker of the House of Commons Robin Vos (R) and Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) in a joint statement.
“This is another last minute flip from the governor,” the statement said. “The governor himself has repeatedly admitted that he cannot move the elections. Last week, a federal judge said that he did not have the power to cancel the elections and that the Evers government could not either. “
There was mounting pressure on Wisconsin to postpone his election for the past few days as concerns over the spread of the coronavirus increased and the state faced election closures and severe shortages of workers.
Evers on Friday called for a special legislative session to cancel the face-to-face vote so the election could be held entirely by mail.
A federal judge had previously extended absentee voting time by one week to allow the elections to continue as planned.
However, the Republicans at the helm of the Wisconsin Legislative Assembly did not accept Evers’ proposal to cancel the vote in person, instead they dropped the special session on Saturday after just a few minutes.
In addition, Wisconsin Republicans had challenged the federal decision to extend postal voting. The petitioners had asked the United States Supreme Court to rule on this matter by Monday.
Many were preparing for an administrative disaster at the polls on Tuesday.
In Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin with a population of nearly 600,000, only six to 12 polling stations were reportedly open to voting in person, up from 180 in the 2016 election.
Officials feared that the tightening of polling stations would lead to longer queues and larger crowds, which could turn homes into centers of spread of disease.
Polling stations that were allegedly opened were facing severe shortages of workers, which led Evers to say that he would call the Wisconsin National Guard to fill the gaps.
Now Wisconsin becomes the 16th state to delay primary due to the coronavirus.
Elections slated for this week included the Democratic presidential primary between the former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenCampaigns face ad dilemma in the midst of the coronavirus crisis Biden to hold “virtual fireside chat” with donors Esper faces tough questions about dismissal of aircraft carrier commander PLUS and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders’ campaigns to face an ad dilemma attack amid the Cuomo coronavirus crisis have been good, but he’s not going to be the Democratic candidate. Does Joe Biden Really Want to Be President? MORE (I-Vt.).
Sanders had called to postpone the election but Biden urged to continue.
Polls show Biden ahead of Sanders, Wisconsin.
The latest Marquette University poll in Wisconsin found that Biden had a 62-34% lead over Sanders. Just six weeks ago, Sanders led Biden to double digits, which is a reminder of how quickly and resolutely the Democrats moved their support behind the likely candidate.
Another glaring victory for Biden on Tuesday would have brought him closer to his appointment and potentially pushed Sanders out of the race.
Neither candidate has advertised or visited the state. The primary race effectively ended with the candidates stranded at home or in Washington.
Wisconsin also held a comprehensive list of general elections on Tuesday, including one for a highly contested state Supreme Court seat.
It is unclear how the legislator will decide to manage the seats that must be vacated until the June elections.