Top Wisconsin court blocks Gov. Evers move to delay presidential primary election

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s presidential primary election will proceed Tuesday under an order from the state Supreme Court that came just hours after Democratic Governor Tony Evers tried to postpone voting as part of a last-ditch effort amid growing fears over the coronavirus.

The court ruled 4-2 on Monday that Evers lacked the authority to move the election on his own.

Conservatives control the court 5-2, but one of the conservative justices is up for reelection Tuesday and didn’t participate in the ruling.

Evers had previously opposed moving the election and said he didn’t have the authority to shift the timing unilaterally.

But he changed course Monday, ordering a delay of in-person voting to June 9, as poll sites closed because nervous volunteers were unwilling to staff them and as criticism about holding the election grew.

The governor said his order was the last hope for stopping the election.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice, which represented Evers, did not immediately respond to a message about possible further legal action.

The Wisconsin election is being viewed as a national test case in a broader fight over voter access in the age of the coronavirus with major implications for the presidential primary contests ahead — and, possibly, the November general election. Many other states pushed their primaries back as the coronavirus swept across the nation.

Meanwhile, Republicans have also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a lower court’s order extending absentee voting to April 13. There was no indication on when the top court would rule.

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Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writers Todd Richmond from Madison, Wis., and Julie Carr Smyth from Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.