Since her two terms as First Lady, Michelle Obama rarely weighs in on public political matters. Instead, she saves it for when it really counts like on April 7 following the Democratic primary in Wisconsin. Despite 15 other states and one U.S. territory postponing their state primary elections due to public safety concerns, the Wisconsin primary went on as planned. Health officials warned that Americans should avoid public gatherings and practice social distancing, but Republican legislative leaders pushed for in-person voting to commence, opposing any postponement of the primary.
After serious concerns over a lack of proper social distancing, Obama tweeted her disappointment, saying, “Today, Wisconsin voters had to choose between making their voice heard and keeping themselves and their family safe. No American should ever have to make that choice.”
On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers attempted to postpone the primary election with an executive order. This effort was overturned hours later by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in an action spearheaded by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. In Milwaukee, the state’s most populated city, only five of the 180 intended voting locations were open, leaving voters in long lines — many wearing protective masks — in order to cast their vote.
Despite Vos’ assurance that Wisconsinites were “incredibly safe” to go out and vote, images of people standing close together in lines on the street, blocking sidewalks, circulated and caused concern as the country is still under an imminent threat of spreading the novel coronavirus. “We must do better to ensure voting is safe for all voters,” Obama continued in her tweet, sharing a link to information on how Wisconsin voters can make sure their absentee ballots get counted.
Today, Wisconsin voters had to choose between making their voice heard and keeping themselves and their family safe. No American should ever have to make that choice.
We must do better to ensure voting is safe for all voters. The latest Wisconsin voting information is below. https://t.co/x1LwEb9H4N
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) April 7, 2020
State numbers show that 1,282,762 people requested absentee ballots, thousands of which say they never received them, reports The New York Times. On the night before the primary vote, the U.S. Supreme Court voted against pleas from Democrats to extend the absentee voting deadline for a week after the primary, instead allowing Wisconsin to discount any mail-in ballots that are postmarked after Tuesday. “The concerns advanced by the court and the applicants pale in comparison to the risk that tens of thousands of voters will be disenfranchised,” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a statement.
With over 395,000 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, mail-in voting would allow people in the U.S. to still cast their votes without risking further spread of the virus. However, Trump himself has referred to the process as “corrupt,” spearheading a movement for Republican leaders to fight for in-person voting. Trump, who mailed in his own Florida absentee ballot for the Republican primary last month, told White House reporters on Tuesday that “mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters.”
Results of the Wisconsin Democratic primary have not yet been reported.
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