Wisconsin Democrats Were Fighting to Vote AFTER the Election Was Over

It is not an optimal situation but let’s be real, context and the rule of law matter. Honest liberals and even Joe Biden give qualified agreement for holding the Wisconsin elections today.  Yet this is a bit extreme but typical of the reaction on the left.  

There are many problems with the left's reaction. First, keep in mind what Democrat Presidential frontrunner Joe Biden stated:

“There’s a lot of things that can be done; that’s for the Wisconsin courts and folks to decide,” former Vice President Joe Biden said last Thursday in a virtual press briefing, in which he insisted that in-person and mail-in voting could both be done safely—even though he considers the possibility of a national convention in the state to be a potential risk to public health.

The Democrat candidate in the most important contested race in Wisconsin said the race could go forward.  And keep in mind until the end, Democrats and Republicans were working together to ensure that Wisconsinites had the chance to vote.  As the liberal New Yorker wrote:

For weeks, [Democrat Governor Tom Evers] joined Republicans in encouraging as many Wisconsinites as possible to avail themselves of the state’s strong absentee-ballot laws, which allow any registered voter who wishes to vote absentee to do so, without having to provide a particular reason. In response, well over a million people did.

That is the way we all should be working: coming together to fight COVID-19.  Is this another case where Democrats are trying to use election rules as a cudgel if they lose?  The law was clear and leaders and both parties were working to ensure more people voted absentee.  

In an op-ed today, RNLA Co-Chair Harmeet Dhillon also highlights one of the most outrageous aspects of what Democrats were trying to make happen. 

The Democrats asked the district court to allow absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted even if received after, due to delays in processing a large number of absentee ballot requests and speculative delays in the mail. Instead of just granting the requested relief, the court went even further. Its order allowed absentee ballots received by next Monday, April 13, to be counted, regardless of when postmarked.

That meant that people could vote almost a week after Election Day.

While the Democrats did not ask for that rule change (probably because it would have been a ridiculous request), when the court granted it, they defended it on appeal and claimed that it was really what they wanted all along.

Yet, Democrats are screaming about the terrible conservative U.S. Supreme Court for reversing the decision to allow votes after the election.  Again, we turn for support not to a Republican but a contributing blogger at the liberal Election Law Blog, Professor Richard Pildes. Professor Pildes explains why this is not just wrong, it is unprecedentedly bad.  (emphasis added)

Whether or not Wisconsin should be holding an election at all today can certainly be disputed.  But that’s not the issue that was before the Supreme Court, as everyone recognizes.  Instead, the federal district court, recognizing that it could not change the date of the election, ordered two principal measures:  (1) that the state treat as valid all absentee ballots received by April 13th; (2) that absentee ballot postmarked after Election Day — and thus cast after Election Day — be treated as valid votes as long as they too were received by April 13th.  The Supreme Court held that the district court lacked the power to order this second measure.  That is, the Court held that the district court was wrong to conclude the Constitution required Wisconsin to accept as valid absentee votes that were cast after Election Day. . . .

The reason this is such a basic principle of election laws is straightforward:  you cannot vote after the polls have legally closed on Election Day.  An absentee ballot postmarked after Election Day is cast after the election is over.  And no state treats that as a valid vote.  It is true that Wisconsin law does not explicitly say that absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day, but Wisconsin law had no need to state that:  the law in Wisconsin had been that these ballots must be received by 8 pm on Election Day – and thus, by definition, they had to be postmarked on or before that day.

The Supreme Court was thus not pulling a principle out of thin air, as Marty implies, when it concluded that even if Wisconsin law was to be changed to permit receipt up until April 13th, state law would still require those ballots to be postmarked on or before today.  As noted, that is both the policy throughout the United States and it reflects the fundamental, universal principle that ballots cast after Election Day are not valid votes. 

No one thinks that holding the election in Wisconsin today is ideal but all should agree it is wrong to hold elections that violate the “most straightforward principles” of election law.  Unfortunately some Democrats don’t, for as Harmeet says:

Democrats are attempting to use the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to take over elections. Again. And to do so permanently.