Lt. Governor of Wisconsin Mandela Barnes called it like he saw it with a Tuesday morning tweet about the state’s primary election being held in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Good morning and welcome to the Shit Show,” he wrote in his tweet. “Today’s episode has been produced by the Supreme Court and directed by the incomparable Speaker and Senate Majority leader duo. Buckle up, this one’s sure to disappoint!”
The primary election in Wisconsin continued as planned this Tuesday despite the state’s stay-at-home order and a day after two courts ruled that the election couldn’t be postponed. The resulting scene was long lines, frustrated voters and poll shutdowns.
According to NBC News, polls are to remain open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday for voters to cast their ballots in-person. However, due to poll worker shortages many designated polling places changed, causing the city to reduce the number of polling sites from 180 to only five. With such a minuscule amount of polling sites, voters joined long lines and large crowds donning masks and protective gear just to vote.
According to The Hill, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers originally signed an executive order to postpone Tuesday’s election until June 9 because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the motion was overturned by the state Supreme Court on Monday. The court ruled 4-2 that the election should continue, with Republicans arguing Evers’ order violated state law.
The U.S. Supreme Court also overturned a lower federal court’s ruling to extend the deadline for the absentee ballot process. They ruled along ideological lines in a 5-4 decision with the court’s liberal justices being the four that dissented. They believed overturning the lower court’s ruling would lead to “massive disenfranchisement” on Tuesday. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained that the ruling “forces voters to choose between endangering their safety by showing up in person or losing their right to vote.”
Due to the court rulings, voters who applied for absentee ballots but didn’t receive them by Tuesday will have no other option than to vote in person. Voters who received their absentee ballots only have till 8 p.m. on Tuesday to submit them in-person or they could post-mark it so that it arrives by 4 p.m. on Monday, April 13, the day election results will be released.
Many of the requests for ballots haven’t been fulfilled, according to NBC News, and the voters that did receive them haven’t submitted them yet. According to the elections commission, as of Monday night, 1,275,154 applications for absentee ballots had been submitted to the states, and 1,264,064 had been sent out to voters. However, only 724,777 had been returned.
Wisconsin’s chief elections official, Meagan Wolfe, said in a statement, “If you are ill and still need to vote on Election Day, curbside voting options are available.” He provided this information along with a list of reminders and safety precautions for voters.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s still going against former vice president Joe Biden in the presidential election, said that his campaign wouldn’t participate in get-out-the-vote efforts on Tuesday. “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,” he explained.
According to recent polls, Biden has a major lead over Sanders in Wisconsin. A poll from Marquette Law School last week revealed Biden was ahead 62 percent to 34 percent. Meanwhile, the NBC News delegate tracker shows Biden has 1,196 delegates to Sanders’ 883. A candidate must secure 1,991 delegates to win the party’s nomination.
More than 2,500 National Guard troops were sent out to staff the polls on Tuesday, where they were required to perform the regular duties of poll workers as well as distributing hand sanitizer. Voters were also encouraged to bring their own pens to mark ballots.
In the state of Wisconsin, there are 2,440 confirmed coronavirus cases and 77 deaths related to COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to The Hill.
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