Let's look at the timeline
Evers proposed an all-mail-in election towards the end of March
Republicans objected, but they did have reasons
“Governor Evers just proposed procuring, printing, verifying and mandating the mailing of millions of ballots within 10 days,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Even he knows that’s not logistically feasible. The clerks of this state should know this is a complete fantasy. The Legislature on both sides of the aisle has to know this is ridiculous.”
Gov. Evers continued to support the original election date until a few days ago
From Politico (dated April 2, 5 days ago)
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ refusal to push for a delay of his state’s Tuesday primary has infuriated fellow Democrats in the state, who are now openly accusing him of failing to prevent an impending train wreck.
As the nation hurtles toward 5,000 coronavirus deaths and governors across the country take extreme steps to keep people at home, Wisconsin is forging ahead with the election despite having its own stay-at-home order. The likely outcome is that Wisconsinites will wake up on election day being told to stay put at the same time they're greenlighted to head to crowded polling sites.
Evers said he lacked executive authority to change the date
At least Evers' spokeswoman said so
She dismissed the possibility of [Governor Evers] attempting to halt the election like [Ohio Governor] DeWine did. “It’s not going to happen," Baldauff said. "He doesn’t want to do it and he also doesn’t have the authority to do it.”
Evers calls a special session
Gov. Evers is asking the legislature to consider the following:
- To move to an all-mail election
- To send a ballot to every registered voter who has not already requested one by May 19
- To extend the time for those ballots to be received until May 26
Republicans gaveled the session in and out (very few legislators were in attendance)
In a last-minute effort to prevent thousands of people from voting in-person on Tuesday, Governor Evers signed an executive order Friday calling for the legislature to convene in special session Saturday to vote to delay the election.
Republican leaders who control the legislature signaled on Friday they wouldn't take up Evers' proposals and on Saturday gaveled into session without taking any votes.
Evers decides to try executive action anyways
In the absence of legislative action, today I signed Executive order #74 suspending in-person voting for the April 7 spring election until June 9, 2020.
State and Federal courts reversed it
The 4-2 decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court — issued hours after Evers ordered the election be put on hold until June in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — found the governor wasn’t authorized to change the date of the election on his own to stem a pandemic that has so far killed 77 people in the state.
The U.S. Supreme Court order stems from three separate cases asking for various voting accommodations that were consolidated. U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled the deadline for local clerks to receive absentee ballots be extended until 4 p.m. on April 13 from the original deadline of 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturns much of the lower court rulings and means voters must have their absentee ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day...
Why no change on the part of Republicans?
There's no light that paints the Republicans blameless here, but it's arguable that
- Evers waited until the 11th hour to change course
Evers proposed an all-mail-in system to the entire registered voter index. While that makes more sense in light of the COVID-19 outbreak it's not without issues of its own
While mail-in ballots seem like an elegant solution as the United States grapples with containing COVID-19, experts say slow-moving state and county governments, inconsistent state rules and limited resources to buy essentials such as envelopes and scanners could make it difficult to ramp up nationally to reach more than 200 million registered voters in the November general election. Among the possible downsides of a quick transition are increased voter fraud, logistical snafus and reduced turnout among voters who move frequently or lack a mailing address.
Most of the people who wanted to vote already did so by absentee ballot
absentee ballots returned in WI April election now up to 864,750, out of 1,282,762 -- as of new data just posted by the Wisconsin Elections Commission
For comparison, Spring 2019 vote totals were about 1.2M voters
According to unofficial, Election Night results gathered by WEC from county clerk websites, Brian Hagedorn leads Lisa Neubauer for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice by 5,960 votes, or 0.49% of the 1,206,345 votes cast in the race.
Either way, neither Gov. Evers, nor the Republicans look like winners here. The clear losers were the voters of Wisconsin.