The Honest Elections Project filed a brief in federal court defending the state of Wisconsin’s duly enacted election laws against a legal challenge ahead of the state’s April 7 election. Multiple lawsuits have been filed in recent days seeking to compel myriad changes to Wisconsin law, including extending the deadline to receive mail-in ballots beyond the election, suspending absentee voter identification requirements, and removing the witness signature requirements on absentee ballots.

Jason Snead, executive director, made this statement:

“Wisconsin has become ground zero for litigation that seeks to use a public health crisis to accomplish a long-running political goal: invalidating crucial voter-integrity laws. Just days ago, a federal judge in Florida rejected a similar effort, citing the confusion and disruption such a maneuver would cause on the eve of an election. The lawsuits in Wisconsin invite these same outcomes, which can only damage public trust in the integrity of the democratic process.

We can all agree with the wisdom of election officials accommodating the guidance of public health officials. However, activists and partisan officials claim that we must choose between protecting public health or securing our elections. This is a false choice. Voters must be able not only to cast ballots, but have confidence that the value and integrity of their votes are protected. Sudden changes to election procedures and greater use of insecure and vulnerable mail-in voting raise reasonable concerns in the minds of voters, making election integrity laws more important than ever.”

Our amicus brief makes several key points:

  • A court order to substantially change how Wisconsinites vote mere days before an election would wreak havoc among election officials across the state, affect some parts of the state—particularly rural areas with limited staff and budgetary resources—more severely than others, and risk voter confusion that may deter people from casting ballots in the first place.
  • The Supreme Court has long held that eleventh-hour changes to election procedures are to be avoided. The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious public health crisis, but it does not invite judicial intervention. In fact, even in the aftermath of calamitous natural disasters, courts have refrained from imposing last-minute changes to elections.
  • Despite the impact of the public response to COVID-19, such as social distancing, voters still possess ample means of complying with voter ID and residency requirements when registering to vote. For instance, voters can upload pictures of required ID documents directly from their phones. The present situation may indeed impose slight burdens on voters, but that is outweighed by the overwhelming interest of the state—and of voters collectively—in secure and honest elections.