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Judge: clerks cannot release election results until after absentee deadline

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A federal judge issued a ruling Friday barring Wisconsin election workers from releasing results in Tuesday's contest until after the absentee deadline.

The deadline for clerks to receive absentee ballots is April 13 at 4 p.m.

Judge William Conley issued the ruling as a clarification to an order he gave Thursday extending the absentee voting deadline.

Normally, clerks are free to report results as soon as polls close on election day.

The ruling comes in a federal lawsuit that sought to postpone Wisconsin's Spring General Election scheduled for Tuesday, April 7.

Tuesday's ballots featured the presidential primary as well as many local races. Voters can look up what is on their ballots on the state's MyVote website.

The judge said courts should not delay the election because that power lies with the governor and state Legislature.

Gov. Tony Evers and Republican legislative leaders have come under fire in recent weeks for not postponing the primary. Several other states have postponed early April primaries to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Poll workers, many of whom are in age groups most susceptible to severe strains of the virus, are in short supply. Wisconsin has a shortage of some 7,000 election clerks. The Wisconsin National Guard will be brought in to help staff polling places.

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