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Lawsuit aims to stop in-person voting, GOP leaders and Governor Evers oppose

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MADISON (WKOW) -- In a rare occasion of agreement, Wisconsin’s top Republican leaders are backing the governor's decision to still hold the April election despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

This week, the City of Green Bay filed a federal lawsuit to stop in-person voting, adding to the dozens of groups and local clerks urging the legislature to postpone the election. 

The lawsuit alleges it is “functionally impossible” to maintain social distracting and it’s too difficult to find poll workers.

“Virtually every municipality is finding it impossible to recruit and field poll workers for the 6,000 or so polling wards,” said Richard Saks, an employment and labor attorney in Milwaukee.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald believe local clerks can still take precautions on election day, such as implementing curb-side voting and practicing social distancing by limiting how many people can vote at a time. 

“I think there are already a lot of things being done, for example, not using the same pen at the polling booth… a clerk also told me they’ll be stocked with hand sanitizer for every poll worker,” said Vos.

Local clerks, civic and voting rights groups are asking the governor to postpone the election until June. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is also personally asking for the April 7th spring election to consist of mail-only ballots, in place of in-person absentee.

Senator Fitzgerald argues it’s not up to the governor to make those decisions, telling reporters their attorneys said the legislature would have to pass legislation to do that, which both Republican leaders oppose.

“I think there’s a certain group of citizens that have voted on election day for many years and that’s still their expectation,” said Fitzgerald. “They are not going to go online to request a ballot.”As of Wednesday, the Wisconsin Election Commission issued 595,195 absentee ballots.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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