Republicans stalled Gov. Tony Evers’ move to push back Tuesday’s election, quickly adjourning a special legislative session to deal with voting issues in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
During Saturday’s proceedings, the state Assembly and state Senate each gaveled in and out within seconds and recessed until Monday.
Some have questioned why ten other states postponed their presidential primary but Wisconsin is going forward. Our election Tuesday is about more than helping choose the presidential nominees. We have over 3900 state, county, school and municipal elections on Tuesday. It is critically important in our system of representative democracy that citizens have the right to choose their representatives, especially during a crisis.
As of today requests for absentee ballots are still being processed but nearly 1.3M ballots have been sent out. A reasonable estimate of voter participation for a spring election without a close presidential primary would be 1.5M. Turnout in 2016 was an all-time record at 2.1M but that included two very tight presidential primary races. In 2012 turnout was 1.1M voters without a presidential primary in doubt. The Tuesday in-person turnout is difficult to predict but if turnout at the polling places was 20% of the total we might see over 1.6M votes cast.
This is a phenomenal response and adjustment to the pandemic. To switch our election from 80% in-person to 80% by mail in just a few weeks demonstrates the flexible and adaptable nature of Wisconsin’s voting laws. It shows how a “can do” attitude by our citizens can overcome huge challenges.
Everything is in place for our elections to go forward. Don’t let fear and panic derail our democracy. Instead let’s pull together to help ensure we minimize health risks in polling places while protecting the integrity of our elections.
The fact is that we have been dealing with the ramifications of Coronavieus for weeks now. It is not a surprise. People have been able to vote absentee in person or by mail for weeks. And if we can leave Wal Mart open, we sure as heck can have our polling places open next week – with a few precautions. Everyone who wants to vote has been able to. The turnout we are seeing falls well within normal turnout rates for this kind of election. There is no reason at all to delay our election.
Self-governance is our right and voting is how we, the people, choose our government. The election must proceed.