After facing mounting pressure—including calls from public health officials, voting rights advocates, and presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders—Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers finally on Friday called on the state’s Republican-led legislature to hold a special session Saturday afternoon to take up legislation that would delay the state’s Democratic primary and a number of state and local elections set to take place Tuesday, April 7.
The legislation Evers wants lawmakers to consider would allow an all-mail election, following the lead of 15 states which have postponed voting in the Democratic primary due to the coronavirus pandemic, which had spread to more than 258,000 Americans at press time.
The state would be ordered to send mail-in ballots to every voter who hasn’t already requested one by May 19, and voters would have until May 26 to return their ballots.
Republican state lawmakers are insisting the election go forward as planned. In addition to the Democratic primary, Wisconsin voters are set to cast ballots in several local elections and a state Supreme Court race. A victory for current Justice Daniel Kelly would preserve a 5-2 conservative majority on the court. As President Donald Trump suggested earlier this week, low turnout due to the pandemic could help secure Kelly’s seat.
As The Nation‘s journalist John Nichols wrote, influential Democrats in Wisconsin have largely been united against the GOP’s refusal to delay the election—especially after Evers on March 25 followed the advice of public health officials and issued a stay-at-home order for the state to keep residents from gathering in groups and risking spreading the coronavirus.
The state party, a number of mayors, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and voting rights groups all called on Evers and the state legislature to halt in-person voting to protect Wisconsin residents—but Sanders’ opponent in the Democratic presidential primary, former Vice President Joe Biden, has not joined the call.
Evers’ reluctance to act has thrown the impending election into disarray in recent weeks, with more than 100 precincts reporting they don’t have enough poll workers to staff voting locations and Milwaukee announcing it plans to use only five polling places instead of the usual 180, increasing the likelihood of dangerous crowds on Election Day.
This week, U.S. Judge William Conley ordered the state to extend the deadline to request an absentee ballot by one day and to allow voters until April 14 to return them, but said it was not within his power to delay the election.
Conley harshly criticized lawmakers and Evers on Thursday for their refusal to take action.
“The Wisconsin State Legislature and governor apparently are hoping…that the efforts of the [Wisconsin Election Commission] administrator, her staff, the municipalities and poll workers, as well as voters willing to ignore the obvious risk to themselves and others of proceeding with in-person voting, will thread the needle to produce a reasonable voter turnout and no increase in the dissemination of COVID-19,” Conley said.
Trump shows all the signs of being ‘rattled’ now that the White House is under siege from protesters: columnist
In a column for the Atlantic, longtime political observer Peter Nicholas stated that Donald Trump is showing all the signs of a scared man as massive protests have broken out across the country over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four former Minneapolis cops -- and angry Americans are taking their case all the way up to the White House gates.
As Nicholas wrote, "Presidents live within a protective cocoon built and continually fortified for one purpose: keeping them alive. But inside the White House compound these days, Donald Trump seems rattled by what’s transpiring outside the windows of his historic residence."
US military brought in to monitor police brutality protests in 7 states: leaked documents
According to an exclusive report from The Nation, based upon Defense Department documents, U.S. military members are being dispatched to seven different states to monitor the activities of Americans who have taken to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of four former Minneapolis cops.
The report, by the Nation's Ken Klippenstein, notes that states include, "Minnesota, where a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, the military is tracking uprisings in New York, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, and Kentucky, according to a Defense Department situation report," with the author pointing out, "Notably, only Minnesota has requested National Guard support."
‘Insanity outside the White House’: After Trump stokes tensions, fresh clashes between police and protesters
As protests against police violence and the killing of George Floyd continued in cities across the U.S. on Saturday, a massive crowd gathered outside President Donald Trump's White House as demonstrators again turned their ire and demands for justice and healing towards the nation's most powerful elected official. After tensions built, clashes erupted between law enforcement and demonstrators.
Tensions flared near the White House. Not sure what triggered it, all I saw was a blast of pepper spray and a sudden sprint backward. There’s a lot more pressure on the police cordon and they’re pulling out gas masks. pic.twitter.com/X4uCQRzPkw