Wisconsin: Protecting Voters and Democracy During the Pandemic
On May 18, 2020, a coalition of Wisconsin voters and organizations sued state election officials for violating federal laws that protect the right to vote. The Wisconsin Elections Commission’s failure to properly manage the April 7 election, held amid the expanding COVID-19 pandemic, violated federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution, which protects every eligible voter’s right to vote. The suit was filed on behalf of three registered Wisconsin voters, as well as Disability Rights Wisconsin, which advocates for human and legal rights on behalf of disabled Wisconsin residents, and Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC), a group that engages members of the Milwaukee Black community in voting and the political process.
On September 21, 2020, a federal district court granted significant relief in our case, ordering state officials to, among other things, extend the deadline for receipt of absentee ballots for six days, until November 9 for all mailed ballots postmarked on or before November 3; extend the deadline for online and mail-in registration by one week, to October 21; allow election officials to email ballots to voters who request them but don’t receive them in the mail; and allow Wisconsinites to serve as poll workers outside of their counties of residence, to help with the threat of poll worker shortages.
While the Seventh Circuit initially ruled in our favor on standing grounds, on October 8 it reversed course after the Wisconsin Supreme Court permitted the Wisconsin Legislature to represent the state and appeal the district court’s ruling. After the Seventh Circuit stayed the district court’s relief, we filed an emergency application to vacate the stay with the U.S. Supreme Court. On October 19, an appeal in the case was made to the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the stay issued by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
On October 26, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency application to vacate the Seventh Circuit stay. In response to the ruling, Protect Democracy’s Farbod Faraji said the following: “The decision simply fails to grapple with the undeniable impact of COVID-19 on the ability of Wisconsin citizens to exercise their right to vote. It is truly unfortunate that the Court will not implement even the most common-sense voter protection measures in the midst of a global pandemic.”
In light of this ruling, it is essential that all voters who are voting absentee to return their ballots to a dropbox or by mail as soon as possible so that their municipal clerk RECEIVES the absentee ballot no later than 8:00 pm CT on November 3rd (Election Day).
Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from Protect Democracy, the MacArthur Justice Center, Stafford Rosenbaum LLC, and O’Melveny & Myers, LLP.
Please direct press inquiries to: email@example.com
Supreme Court of the United States
- Amicus Brief of Governor Tony Evers in Support of Emergency Applications to Vacate Stay (October 14, 2020)
- Emergency Application to Vacate Stay (October 13, 2020)
- ECF No. 76 Opinion Granting Stay (October 8, 2020)
ECF No. 49 7th Circuit’s Order (September 28, 2020)
ECF No. 48 RNC’s Reply Brief (September 26, 2020)
ECF No. 47 Legislature’s Reply Brief (September 26, 2020)
ECF No. 39 Swenson Plaintiffs’ Opposition Brief (September 25, 2020)
- ECF No. 9-1 Legislature’s Emergency Motion for a Stay (September 23, 2020)
- ECF No. 539 Court’s Order on Preliminary Injunction (September 21, 2020)
- ECF No. 538 Court’s Opinion and Order (September 21, 2020)
- ECF No. 318 Preliminary Injunction Reply Brief (July 31, 2020)
- ECF No. 494 Statement of Additional Proposed Findings of Fact (July 31, 2020)
- ECF No. 44 Motion for Preliminary Injunction (June 24, 2020)
- ECF No. 37 Amended Complaint and Prayer for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (June 23, 2020)
- ECF No. 1 Complaint and Prayer for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (May 18, 2020)
- Alexa Corse, Federal Judge Extends Deadlines for Wisconsin Mail-in Ballots, Wall Street Journal (September 21, 2020)
- Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner & Veronica Rocha, Judge Rules Wisconsin Mail-in Ballots Can Be Received by Nov. 9, CNN (September 21, 2020)
- Laurel White, ‘This Is A Sea Change’: Federal Judge Hears Arguments In Pandemic Voting Case, Wisconsin Public Radio (August 5, 2020)
- Joe Kelly, Election Rule Changes Debated in Wisconsin Federal Court, Courthouse News Service (August 5, 2020)
- Abby Phillips, Prospect of chaos in November grows as coronavirus cases rise and Trump escalates attacks on voting, CNN (July 9, 2020)
- Bill Theobald, Stopping more Wisconsin election meltdowns subject of new suit, The Fulcrum (May 19, 2020)
- Ruth Conniff, Wisconsin voters sue Elections Commission to fix voting problems before the fall, Wisconsin Examiner (May 19, 2020)
- Patrick Marley, “Sweeping lawsuit seeks to have absentee ballot requests sent to all Wisconsin voters,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (May 18, 2020)
- Scott Bauer, Sweeping federal lawsuit seeks election changes in Wisconsin, AP News (May 18, 2020)
- Raymond Neupert, Disabled voters file federal lawsuit over botched ballots and voting in Spring Election, Wisconsin Radio Network (May 18, 2020)
- Joseph Ax, Wisconsin lawsuit seeks absentee ballot forms, other poll changes amid coronavirus concerns, Reuters (May 18, 2020)
- Emilee Fannon, Lawsuit demands absentee ballot request form be sent to every voter, WKOW(May 18, 2020)
- Shawn Johnson, Federal Lawsuit Seeks Changes For Wisconsin’s Next Pandemic Election, Wisconsin Public Radio (May 18, 2020)
- Joe Kelly, Wisconsin Suit Seeks Sweeping Changes to 2020 Election Procedures, Courthouse News Service (May 18, 2020)
- Jerry Lambe, Wisconsin Officials Sued After ‘Biggest Election Failure Since the Voting Rights Act Was Enacted’, Law & Crime (May 18, 2020)
- Sierra Trojan, Video: Sweeping federal lawsuit seeks election changes in Wisconsin, Fox 11 News (May 18, 2020)