The September 17 deadline required 1,850 municipal clerks to mail absentee ballots to Wisconsin voters who set one in state law.
The 4-3 decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court was split between partisan lines, with all four conservative judges agreeing that the process of sending out ballots should be halted, while three liberal judges dissected. The possible inclusion of Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins on the general election ballot could be the yardstick of a razor-thin contest between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Voting has already been the subject of legal wrangling during the epidemic in Wisconsin. Republicans who insisted on keeping the state in time on April 7 won two legal battles in the spring, as the state Supreme Court barred the Democratic gov. Tony Everts bid to delay it until June and the US Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling. Six additional days for voters to return their ballots by mail. At least 19 people in Wisconsin said they voted in-person or tested positive for coronovirus later that month, according to the state’s Department of Health.
According to Megan Wolfe, chief election officer for the state of Wisconsin, about 1 million voters in Wisconsin have requested ballots, and more than 300,000 ballots have been prepared by local voters. On a media call when the court order was reduced.
Asked what would happen if the justices ordered another candidate to be already printed after being added to the ballot, Wolff said that “it would be incredibly complicated and difficult.” Clerk voters in small courts across the state are likely to send some ballots already, Wolff said, though she was unable to say how many were sent.
The state’s High Court said that the Wisconsin Election Commission should inform the court by the end of the day on Thursday whether absentee ballots have been sent. The court is asking for the names and addresses of all those who have been mailed with the absentee ballot, as well as the date on which it was voted. On top of that, the court ordered the commission to provide it with the names of the officials who requested that the date and time of those requests be printed, along with the ballots.
Hawkins was one of two candidates who were denied a spot in the ballot of the general election by the Wisconsin Election Commission. The other rapper is Kanye West, who sued and overturned that decision. The lawsuit is still pending and may also affect the ballot-printing process.
Attorney Jeffrey Mendel, who is representing one of those who sued to keep Hawkins off the ballot, said changing the ballots at this point would bring uncertainty in the election process before 2020.
“It can cause unprecedented chaos,” Mandal said.
In 2016, Green Party candidate Jill Stein received 31,072 votes in Wisconsin. The rally is over a margin of 22,748 votes that led Trump to win the state over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly, Eric Bradner, Veronica Streaklursey and Abbie Phillip contributed to this report.