Wisconsin State Legislature v. Bostelmann, No. 20-2835 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
A district judge extended Wisconsin’s deadline for online and mail-in registration by one week; extended the deadline for delivery of absentee ballots by mail by allowing for online delivery and access by October 29; and extended the deadline for the receipt of mailed ballots from Election Day to November 9, if the ballots are postmarked on or before November 3. On September 29, the Seventh Circuit denied motions for a stay in these appeals, reasoning that Wisconsin’s legislative branch was not authorized to represent the state’s interest in defending its statutes. Subsequently, the court certified the question to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, which responded that the state legislature is authorized to represent Wisconsin’s interest in the validity of state laws.
The Seventh Circuit then stayed the district court order pending appeal. A federal court should not change the rules so close to an election and political rather than judicial officials are entitled to decide when a pandemic justifies changes to otherwise-valid rules. The district court entered its injunction six weeks before the election and less than four weeks before the first deadline that it altered. Voters have had many months to register or obtain absentee ballots and to cast ballots while preserving social distancing. The district court did not find that any person who wants to avoid voting in person on Election Day would be unable to cast a ballot in Wisconsin by planning ahead. Voters who wait until the last minute face problems regardless of the pandemic.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on September 29, 2020.