Why the Wisconsin Primary Failed

Why the Wisconsin Primary Failed

Abby Turner, Writer

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, almost all public life has been shut down. Most citizens travel only to essential places, like work and the grocery store. But on April 7th, citizens of Wisconsin traveled to vote in-person, something most other states have postponed to absentee ballot voting.

The governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, took some of the same steps Ohio governor Mike DeWine did when it came to postponing the primary election, only the two states had very different outcomes. The day prior to the Wisconsin primary, Gov. Evers said he didn’t believe there was a safe way to conduct in-person voting. Just like Gov. DeWine, he took his case to the court to get the primary delayed. The courts denied his case, and unlike Ohio, the primary went on after this step.

The court’s decision in Wisconsin had a political undertone, not making public health the priority. This comes as absentee ballots become a major bipartisan issue, and the coronavirus is fueling this issue. The Republican party in Wisconsin has long been against the use of absentee ballots because they can be subject to voter fraud. In this case, they claimed Democrats wanted to use coronavirus as a way to rewrite voter laws. The Supreme Court in Wisconsin is more conservative-leaning, so the verdict denied Gov. Evers executive order to postpone the election.

The perfect, or imperfect, storm was created in Wisconsin. Poll workers backed out, reducing a city with 180 polling stations normally to 5. As citizens are advised to avoid crowds, those who wanted to vote had to attend the same polling stations as 70,000 other citizens. Reports from voters said poll workers did their best to keep everyone safe: Tape lines marking six feet, a new pen for every voter and hand sanitizer.

The Wisconsin primary shadowed for many what is feared to be the presidential election in November. The biggest issue is allowing absentee ballots, and having the systems to count increased amounts of them. Many fear politics will overrun the public health concern in the next election. The coronavirus has no political party, and it does not discriminate. Public health needs to come before politics to ensure the safety of the citizens, while also allowing all to vote.