The images were searing: lines of voters wearing face masks stretched city blocks across Milwaukee Tuesday for Wisconsin’s primary.
The lines were long, in part, because poll workers quit in throngs, forcing Milwaukee officials to consolidate 180 polling places down to a mere five locations. About 300 National Guard members were also called in to replace volunteers who walked off, according to CNN.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said the chain of events were foreseen, which is why he asked the state Supreme Court to delay the primary until June, against the protests made by Republicans. The other states with primaries scheduled for April all postponed their elections due to the pandemic, however, Wisconsin’s top court sided with Republicans and the primary was held in the middle of a national health crisis. Evers also attempted to delay the election by six days, extending the deadline for absentee ballots to be mailed back, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against that request.
Republican State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos welcomed the news, telling reporters at a polling site, “You are incredibly safe to go out.”
“It made no sense to cancel the election and just push it off to a future date with no idea how it was going to work and no better plan than people have done right here today,” Vos told CNN.
“We have no guarantee that it’s going to be any safer in June than it is right here today.” Vos added, “There’s a chance this virus is going to come back sometime in the fall.”
Further, thousands of Wisconsin residents had previously requested absentee ballots, but they didn’t receive those ballots in time to mail back before the deadline, per the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Thus, those citizens were forced to either vote in person on Tuesday or sacrifice their primary vote.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is running against former Vice President Joe Biden to become the Democratic nominee, had requested a primary delay and slammed the court rulings.
“Let’s be clear: Holding this election amid the coronavirus outbreak is dangerous, disregards the guidance of public health experts, and may very well prove deadly,” Sanders released in a statement, according to CNN.
As of Monday, Biden did not weigh in.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama did, however. On Twitter, she said the Wisconsin primary forced voters to choose between their health or whether they wanted to risk it to vote.
Today, Wisconsin voters had to choose between making their voices heard and keeping themselves and their families safe. No American should ever have to make that choice,” The Forever FLOTUS tweeted. “We must do better to ensure voting is safe for all voters. The latest Wisconsin voting information is below.”
Today, Wisconsin voters had to choose between making their voice heard and keeping themselves and their family safe. No American should ever have to make that choice.
We must do better to ensure voting is safe for all voters. The latest Wisconsin voting information is below. https://t.co/x1LwEb9H4N
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) April 7, 2020
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