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Evers asks lawmakers to modify election statutes

Evers asks lawmakers to modify election statutes Photo: WDIO-TV file

Updated: March 27, 2020 04:43 PM

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers says he wants legislators to act quickly to send all registered voters get an absentee ballot for the April 7 spring election and allow local clerks time to count them.

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Evers said Friday that he's asking the Legislature to act “swiftly" but stopped short of calling a special session. Evers' spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, says the governor is prepared to call a special session but wants to work toward consensus with Republican leaders.

Evers said during a news conference that he wants to make sure every registered voter receives an absentee ballot, wants to make sure they're considered valid if they're postmarked on the day of the election, and give clerks extra time to count ballots.

The odds Republicans will convene to do anything look slim. GOP leaders said this week they think the election should continue as planned.

Evers had previously discussed the possibility of using an executive order on the issue. Ryan Nilsestuen, Evers' chief legal counsel, said during the news conference that they chose to go through the Legislature because an executive order could result in a legal challenge.

On Thursday, a coalition of voting rights groups and labor unions filed a federal lawsuit seeking to postpone the election. They also want the judge to lift requirements that absentee voters include copes of proof-of residency documents and photo IDs with ballot applications and prohibit state election officials from enforcing in-person voting requirements until the stay-at-home-order expires.

Evers' "safer at home" order does allow people to leave home to vote, and allows polling places to remain open. Elections officials are urging people to vote early by absentee ballot, and Superior will begin drive-up voting on Monday.

The April 7 ballot features the presidential primary, the state Supreme Court general election, and municipal races. The 7th Congressional District Special Election is set for May 12.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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