(The Center Square) – A federal judge wants to hear arguments whether the rules for Wisconsin's next election should change between now and Election Day.
U.S. District Judge William Conley on Wednesday ordered a hearing on a lawsuit over voter ID requirements, absentee ballots, and the timeline for returning those ballots by the end of June.
Conley on Wednesday refused a request from both the Wisconsin Republican Party and the national Republican Party to dismiss the lawsuit.
The question before the federal court is whether voters need to show proof of ID when casting an absentee ballot, and how they can request those ballots in the mail or electronically. The lawsuit also wants to end the requirement that ballots have a witness signature.
There is also a question about how long local election managers should wait to count absentee ballots. Currently ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day. The lawsuit wants to allow local clerks to count ballots delivered up to 10 days after the election.
Democrats filed the lawsuit before the April election, citing the state's response to the coronavirus, but tweaked it afterwards. Democrats said the questions at the heart of the lawsuit are still unanswered.
Conley on Wednesday agreed.
“As was amply demonstrated in the fire drill leading up to the April election, the longer this court delays, the less likely constitutional relief to voters is going to be effective and the more likely that relief may cause voter confusion and burden election officials charged with its administration,” he wrote in his ruling.
Conley added to his order a requirement that the Wisconsin Election Commission weigh in on what it is doing to avoid problems with absentee voting in November, and whether WEC commissioners think the lawsuit would improve how things work on Election Day. Conley is giving the WEC just over two weeks to respond.