Mayors Say Wisconsin Plans to Hold In-Person Primary Puts “Hundreds of Thousands at Risk”

A group of Wisconsin mayors warned that the state’s plans to hold an in-person primary as scheduled on Tuesday could lead to deaths, Politico reports.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has issued a “stay-at-home” order and called for the Republican-led legislature to cancel in-person voting and extend the state’s mail-in ballot deadline.

Republican legislators balked at the move and the primary is scheduled to go ahead as planned.

But more than 100 towns do not have enough poll workers to open a single voting location and some voters may not receive their mail-in ballots on time.

Mayors warn of risks:

“We implore you to implement all emergency measures necessary to control the spread of COVID-19, a communicable disease,” a group of 10 Wisconsin mayors said in a letter to the state’s top health official. “Specifically, we need you to step up and stop the State of Wisconsin from putting hundreds of thousands of citizens at risk by requiring them to vote at the polls while this ugly pandemic spreads.”

“We believe it would be irresponsible and contrary to public health to conduct in-person voting throughout the state at the very time this disease is spreading rapidly,” the letter added.

Staff shortages expected:

There is a shortage of 7,000 poll workers statewide, NPR reports.

Milwaukee’s head of elections told the outlet that the city was operating with just 400 of their usual 1,400 election workers.

"I come from a place of election worker and public safety first and foremost, and then of course access to voting, but at the end of the day we shouldn't be putting our election workers or the public at risk," he said.

Milwaukee usually has about 180 polling sites but it is expected to have just 5 on Tuesday.

But Republicans refuse to scrap the plans.

"We live in a republic, and we live in one that has to have elections," State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said. "I'm looking forward to the pride that I'm going to feel knowing that there were hopefully a million Wisconsinites who did the right thing and cast their ballot, whether by mail or in person, because democracy has to continue.”


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