Democracy is at stake when citizens must choose between their personal safety and their right to vote. Other states with elections scheduled during the coronavirus pandemic chose to postpone their elections or had mail-in-voting for all in place, but not Wisconsin.
Gov. Evers called on the Republican-controlled legislature to approve the distribution of absentee ballots to every Wisconsin voter. Republicans refused. Gov. Evers moved the April election date to June. The date change was struck down by the conservative majority in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Limiting voter turnout in large cities like Milwaukee, which lean Democratic, can throw an election in favor of Republican candidates. A relatively small number of votes determined the win of Donald Trump in 2016 and conservative Justice Hagedorn in 2019.
Milwaukee County, a COVID-19 epicenter, opened only 5 of its 180 polling locations. A shortage in poll workers resulted in voters having two-hour wait lines and crowded polling conditions. The losses in would-be voters and health fallout are unknown.
A federal judge granted an April 13 extension for Wisconsin absentee ballot acceptance, but the U.S. Supreme Court conservative majority over-ruled postmark extensions.
Then, three tubs of undelivered absentee ballots were discovered in a postal center outside Milwaukee. At least 9,000 absentee ballots requested by voters were never sent. Thousands of completed ballots were postmarked too late to count or had no postmark at all, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/us/politics/wisconsin-election-absentee-coronavirus.html.
Wisconsin voters must be allowed and encouraged to vote and have their votes counted. Wisconsin could be the deciding state in the 2020 presidential election.
Steps needed for fair voting:
- Distribute absentee ballots to all Wisconsin voters early in October.
- Provide free postage.
- Expand early voting and polling locations.
- Recruit and train sufficient poll workers.
- Solicit federal funds to enact these measures.
Kathy Kascewicz of Fifield
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