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Wisconsin conducting primary as planned in spite of COVID-19 pandemic while other states postpone elections, switch to mail-in voting

A tent outside the Dunn, Wis., town hall allowed people to vote early without entering the building. Gov. Tony Evers’ order postponing Tuesday's vote was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court.

Wisconsin state Governor Tony Evers attempted to postpone Wisconsin’s Primary Election that is taking place today, April 7, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, on Monday the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled against his ability to do so. As a result, the primary is being conducted as planned. The State Supreme Court also ruled against a six-day extension of the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots.

The decision has largely been perceived as politically based with the Republican controlled State Supreme Court overruling the Democratic governor. The State Supreme Court defended its decision in an unsigned statement claiming the inability for a governor to interfere with elections through significant, last minute changes.

This decision could result in numerous logistical problems and it poses a serious health risk for voters and volunteers as the sharing of voting materials (tables, booths, etc.), long lines and the large number of individuals all congregating at the polling locations will increase the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Volunteer workers, who are at a high risk through their interactions with numerous different voters, may also refuse to show up and work because of the danger to their health.

Wisconsin is likely to be alone in its decision to continue as normal going forward as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense disruption and postponements for the presidential race. In the short term, it will affect the Democratic nomination process the most, since Trump is all but guaranteed to be the Republican nominee.

In the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden currently leads Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by 306 pledged delegates (1215 to 909), with 27 states (including Wisconsin) and 1855 pledged delegates still to participate and be counted in the process.

Alaska and Hawaii’s primaries and Wyoming’s caucus were all scheduled to take place last week but all three states cancelled in-person voting and switched to mail-in voting while extending the deadline to mail in your ballot to later in the month.

Ohio canceled in-person voting for their primary back in early March during the beginning of the pandemic and switched to mail-in absentee ballots with the deadline extended to April 28.

Florida, Illinois and Arizona all held their primaries on the day Ohio originally planned to, March 17. As a result of the pandemic, all three states experienced issues with a lack of set up, supplies, and volunteer workers which resulted in polling stations opening late, long lines and polling locations moved at the last minute without informing voters.

Numerous states have postponed their primary elections until June and the Democratic National Convention itself, the event where the Democratic Presidential Nominee is officially chosen, has been postponed from mid-July to mid-August. However, there is no telling how long the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will last and it is unlikely to have reached its peak or to end soon. Even with the postponements, the upcoming primaries will most likely be forced to switch to mail-in voting to avoid putting voters in danger.

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