Wisconsin voters ask Supreme Court docket to reinstate COVID-19 lodging for upcoming elections

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South Carolina election officials, GOP ask justices to reinstate witness requirement for absentee ballots

Posted Wed Oct 14th 2020 10:39 am by Amy Howe

Two different groups of Wisconsin voters came to the Supreme Court on Tuesday asking the judges to reintroduce three changes to electoral rules a federal district judge ordered for the upcoming election over the coronavirus pandemic. The groups want the judges to block a U.S. Court of Appeals decision on Circuit 7 that interrupted those changes.

US District Judge William Conley issued an order on September 21 in four consolidated cases that, among other things, extended the deadline for postal votes and instructed election officials to count them as long as they were postmarked by election day and received within six days . Conley also ordered the state to waive a law requiring local electoral officials to live in the county they work in, and instructed the state's electoral commission to offer electronic mail-ballot delivery to voters who do not get their ballots in the mail on time receive.

The 7th Circle suspended Conley's orders on October 8th. Judge Ilana Rovner disagreed, arguing that as a result of the stay, "many thousands of Wisconsin citizens will lose their right to vote, despite doing everything they can reasonably do to exercise it."

In a filing on Tuesday afternoon, a group of voters called on the judges to restore the two parts of Conley's September 21 ruling, which extended the deadline for postal voting by six days and allowed electoral workers outside of the county. Jill Swenson and the other plaintiffs in the case argued that there was no chance voters would be confused by the revitalization of the district court's requested housing – a rationale behind the doctrine known as the Purcell Principle that courts generally rule out change Avoid the rules of a last-minute election – because the accommodations do not affect voters at all. In addition, the Supreme Court did not create a rule of "absolute respect for the legislature in matters of election administration". Rather, the important question is whether the legislature has considered how to react to the COVID-19 pandemic. Voters argued that Wisconsin lawmakers did not.

In a separate filing, another group of voters called on the judges to reintroduce the electronic service requirement. Sylvia Gear and the other plaintiffs in this case told judges that "the history of the litigation over this particular Wisconsin law puts this case on a very different footing than any other electoral law case the court has received this year." The Purcell principle was not applicable, they stressed, because the district court could not have passed its decision in May, as the 7th Circle suggested: By the end of June, all Wisconsin voters were entitled to receive ballots by email. And the availability of electronic delivery until recently means voters will not be confused by Conley's orders, as some voters "have been expecting and relying on postal ballot papers for many years".

Both applications for residence go to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who handles 7th circle emergencies. Kavanaugh can respond to inquiries on his own or, as usual, refer them to the court of law.

This post was originally published on Howe on the Court.

Posted in Swenson v. Bostelmann, Gear v. Wisconsin State Legislature, Featured, Election Disputes

Recommended citation:
Amy Howe,
Wisconsin voters are calling on the Supreme Court to rebuild COVID-19 housing for the upcoming election.
SCOTUSblog (October 14, 2020, 10:39 a.m.),
https://www.scotusblog.com/2020/10/wisconsin-voters-ask-supreme-court-to-reinstate-covid-19-accommodations-for-upcoming-elections/