On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order postponing the election—which includes a presidential primary and races for state and local office—to June 9. Republicans in the state fought the order, insisting the election go on despite the pandemic sweeping the world. The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t even peaked in places like Wisconsin, which modeling now shows will happen in approximately 10 days, on April 17, 10 days earlier than the original April 27 estimate. Regardless of the exact peak, now is the most important time to stay home to avoid contracting and spreading the deadly virus.
And yet, not only have Republicans insisted on going forward, the Republican-dominated United States Supreme Court sided with Wisconsin Republicans (big surprise!) and forced the election. The result? Wisconsin residents lined up, literally around the block (see the videos below), to exercise their constitutional right to vote. As for residents who are immunocompromised, elderly, disabled and/or can’t otherwise get out to stand in a long line during a pandemic, risking their very lives? Too bad. Republicans have even worked to limit absentee voting in the state. As our Daily Kos Elections crew noted, even the in-person voting locations are struggling with staffing issues.
And for those who do choose to head to the polls, they face an elections infrastructure in shambles. Due to a shortage of poll workers, Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, was set to open just five polling sites, down from its usual 180. The same problem has plagued jurisdictions across the state. Many voters will therefore be deprived of their right to vote, and efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus will be undermined.
Folks, this is a preview of what may happen nationwide in November. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield told NPR the coronavirus spread will happen in waves and the United States can expect a second wave in the fall or early winter that could affect a "substantial portion of Americans that are susceptible." In other words, around the time of the election. In fact, experts warn we could be hit with multiple rolling waves, hitting different areas and then popping up again elsewhere, until we find a vaccine.
So, here’s a look at Wisconsin this morning, where Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes described today’s election as a “shit show” that is “sure to disappoint!” In the videos below, you’ll see the long, long lines, but you’ll also see Wisconsinites doing everything they can do prevent the spread of coronavirus—proper social distancing and many, not all, in masks.
Look at what is happening in Wisconsin and ask yourself what this would look like for the election in November?
We cannot allow this to happen. We must move to mail-in voting for the November election so that all Americans can exercise their right to vote—and do it without risking their lives or others’.
Sign if you agree: All 50 states should include a vote-by-mail option for November's election.