The Secretary of State is instructing municipalities and other local jurisdictions still planning on holding elections on May 2 to postpone them to November. “If you don’t move your May 2nd election, you are subjecting voters to health risks and potential criminal violations,” said an advisory sent to local governments. “Failure to postpone your election will put your election at severe risk for an election contest.”
For those pressing on, early voting would begin April 20 while the state remains under Abbott’s statewide order to stay at home except for essential activities. Election workers are considered essential workers, but voters are not and remain subject to stay-at-home guidelines.
Ten of the 11 states with primary elections scheduled in April have postponed them. Wisconsin is going forward with its April 7 primary election after a federal judge declined to postpone it, saying it is not the “job of a federal district judge to act as a super health department for the state.” U.S. District Judge William Conley scolded attorneys representing the Republican-controlled General Assembly that it should have postponed the elections, saying that would have avoided what may be “a bad decision from the perspective of public health, and it could be excruciatingly bad.”
The election is not only the presidential primary but also the primary election for down-ballot state and local offices.
Gov. Tony Evers (D) issued a statewide “Safer at Home” order on March 25 that is effective through April 24. Many localities have no poll workers signed up to work the election, and others have considerably reduced polling locations. Milwaukee, which normally has 180 polling locations, plans on operating fewer than 12.
Today (Thursday) was the deadline for Wisconsin voters to request absentee ballots. Conley’s ruling extended the deadline by a day. More than 1.1M absentee ballots have been requested, overwhelming local election officials. Conley extended the deadline for those ballots to be returned by one week.
Shifting Deadlines: A friend asked today about whether any of the deadlines shift because an election has been postponed. Most May 2 general elections are now scheduled for November 3, and the May 26 primary runoff elections have been moved to July 14. Most deadlines move along with the election date with one critical exception: filing deadlines.
The filing period for the May 2 elections ran from January 15 to February 14. It does not reopen because the election has been postponed. Likewise, any filing period for a special election ordered for May 2 also does not reopen.
Every other deadline for these elections is based on the number of days before or after the election. For example, May 15 is the last day to request a ballot by mail for an election held on May 26 because that day is 11 days before the election. Now that the election is July 14, the new deadline to request a ballot by mail will be 11 days before that.
Likewise, campaign finance reporting deadlines also move with their elections. Runoff reports are still due eight days before the runoff election, but they’re no longer due on May 18.
CD13 open: Texas Right to Life PAC endorsed Ronny Jackson in the Republican runoff over Josh Winegarner. The group previously endorsed Chris Ekstrom, who finished third in the 15-candidate primary.
CD22 open: The Kathaleen Wall campaign released a new ad, “China,” asserting that she will stand with President Trump, who “has the courage” to call the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.”
Wall faces Fort Bend Co. Sheriff Troy Nehls (R) in the runoff to succeed the retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land).
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