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Supreme Court Unlikely to Get Involved in Any Future Wisconsin Election Disputes


As November quickly approaches, there remains many questions about how voting will look. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the elections in April, with thousands attempting to get absentee ballots, polling locations closing down and being understaffed, as well as a legal battle over a possible extension or delay of the election. These issues have not been settled for the November election, and will likely rise again, however, don’t expect the Supreme Court to weigh in on the legal battles.            

Across the country, there have been legal battles surrounding elections and their procedures. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled in a way that leaves the resolution of those issues to the state. One of those legal challenges took place in Wisconsin. The Supreme Court, not unanimously, seems determined to keep the federal courts out of the equation when it comes to state election issues. In the Wisconsin case, the issue was about an extension of the deadline for absentee ballots. The Supreme Court majority struck down the extension:

“Extending the date by which ballots may be cast by voters —not just received by the municipal clerks but cast by voters—for an additional six days after the scheduled election day fundamentally alters the nature of the election,”

It is decisions like that, those that “fundamentally alter the nature” of an election that the Supreme Court has shown an unwillingness to make. As November approaches, and COVID-19 continues to create problems for the election, expect any legal battles to take place within Wisconsin, where a new Justice just began her term.