City of Milwaukee Election Commission workers process about 60,000 absentee ballots. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Another lawsuit has been filed in the wake of last week’s controversial election, seeking a revote option for those who were denied a chance to vote because their absentee ballots didn’t arrive or couldn’t vote in person because of health concerns.
The suit, the eighth filed regarding the timing of the spring election conducted during the state’s safer-at-home order, was filed in federal court in Madison on Monday, ahead of the 4 p.m. release of results from the April 7 vote.
There are 14 named plaintiffs but the case seeks certification as a class action for claims under the the First Amendment, the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth amendments, the Voting Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Some requested absentee ballots, did not receive them and did not vote in person. Some returned absentee ballots by April 1 but don’t believe the ballots were received by April 7. Some said they did not risk their health by voting in person after their requested absentee ballots did not arrive.
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One did not receive his requested absentee ballot and could not vote because he was recuperating from a broken leg with his family in Waukesha and could not make it to his polling station in Milwaukee.
“This action is not partisan (about winners and losers) but rather a challenge to the fundamental unfairness of the Legislative Defendants’ intentional act to force voters into an unreasonable, unfair, and unconstitutional choice between (a) exercising their fundamental right to vote in an in-person election during a pandemic; and (b) forgoing their right to vote in order to preserve their life and health and the lives and health of those close to them and the public overall,” the suit says
The suit names as defendants the Wisconsin Legislature; the leaders of the Assembly and Senate, Rep. Robin Vos and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald; and the Wisconsin Elections Commission, its members and its administrator.
One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, Stacie Rosenzweig, said that timing of the election was particularly harmful to voters from minority communities.
“This is voter suppression, wrong and illegal” under the Voting Rights Act, she said, noting that African American and Latino residents — among hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis — faced the most difficulty and greatest chances of infection by voting Tuesday.
The suit seeks a redo of the April 7 election at a later date or a partial re-vote by mail for those who did not get to cast a ballot by April 7. It also asks the court to declare that the state violated the plaintiff class’ rights under the Voting Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act and to order the state to set out a plan for holding a new election that complies with those laws.
It also asks the court to require the state to lay out a plan for holding future 2020 elections by mail in case the threat of the coronavirus pandemic has not subsided by those dates.
The plaintiffs are represented by Laffey, Leitner & Goode LLC, Urban & Taylor, Halling & Cayo, and Rebecca L. Salawdeh.
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