The decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to stop sending postal ballot papers raised concerns that it could cause delays and confusion in the president's battlefield state.
The decision on Thursday, 54 days before the November 3rd election, was temporary. However, it is unclear when the court, which is controlled 4: 3 by Conservatives, will make a final decision that will restart the process of voting for voters. Here's a look at what's known so far:
Q: WHAT DID THE COURT DO?
A: The state Supreme Court ordered the immediate cessation of postal ballot papers being sent to the more than 1 million voters for whom an application was filed.
The court also asked the Wisconsin Elections Commission for details of how many ballots had been requested and sent. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, officials said 380,000 ballots had been sent but the information was incomplete. And employees who state in the state system that ballots have been sent do not necessarily mean that they have already been sent in the mail.
All ballot papers that have already expired and that voters fill out and send back to the state are counted. If the court orders a change to the official ballot, voters who have already received the first ballot will receive the new one. If the new one is also returned, only that one is counted.
Q: Who filed the lawsuit?
A: The Greens presidential candidate Howie Hawkins and his colleague Angela Walker contested the state election commission's decision not to include their names in the presidential election.
The electoral commission was stuck 3: 3 twice last month on whether Hawkins had submitted enough valid signatures to take part in the vote. All three Republicans said he had, while the three Democrats disagreed.
One complaint alleged that Walker provided an incorrect address on thousands of her nomination signatures. This resulted in them not having enough valid signatures to qualify for the vote.
Q: WHAT ABOUT KANYE WEST?
A: The rapper is also trying to vote in Wisconsin and has filed a separate lawsuit. A judge on Brown County Circuit Court ruled late Friday that the Electoral Commission duly excluded West from voting.
This decision will most likely be challenged in the state Supreme Court, which would decide whether one or both, West and Hawkins, should be included in the vote.
West was kept away from the electoral commission with a non-partisan 5-1 vote. They found that West's campaign team didn't submit their nomination papers until just after 5 p.m. Deadline.
Q: how big is that?
A: Anything about the state of Wisconsin election, especially less than two months before the November 3rd election, is a big deal. President Donald Trump won the state by less than a percentage point in 2016, and polls suggest that this year's race between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will also be close.
Democrats fear that including the Green candidate in the vote could distract Biden's liberal votes. In 2016, the Green candidate received 31,006 votes in the state, roughly 8,000 more than Trump's profit margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Republicans are pushing for West's candidacy, voicing concerns from Democrats that they believe he may turn voters away from Biden.
Changing the ballot paper would be expensive and burdensome for the 1,850 local election workers who are tasked with printing and distributing the ballots. And any delay in sending postal ballot papers would shorten the voter return window. There are already widespread concerns about the ability of the US Postal Service to cope with the increase in volume. Both parties have asked voters to apply for postal votes now and to return them as soon as possible.
Q: WHAT ABOUT MISSED DEADLINES?
A: Wisconsin law requires that postal ballot papers be sent to anyone whose application has been submitted by September 17th. That's just over a million voters. Federal law requires Wisconsin and all other states to send postal ballot papers to military and overseas voters by September 19. These deadlines were set to give voters enough time to return their ballots.
With deadlines looming, there is hope that the state's Supreme Court will decide within days who should and should not take part in the vote.
Q: WHAT IS OTHER KEY DATA?
A: October 29th is the deadline for most voters to request a ballot in the mail. Returned ballot papers must be received by 8 p.m. on election day when the polls are closed. There is a pending federal lawsuit by Democrats and their allies aimed at extending deadlines for requesting and returning postal ballot papers.
Voters can also choose to cast absentee votes in their local election officer's office or to vote in person on election day. The state election commission has estimated that around 2 million of the roughly 3 million eligible voters in the state will vote absent by post.
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