democracy deferred
April 8, 2020

Tuesday's primary vote in Wisconsin went about as well as expected, considering it happened during a global pandemic.

Despite a last-ditch effort from Gov. Tony Evers (D), the state's presidential primary and state Supreme Court election still went on Tuesday amid a statewide stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It translated into hours-long waits to vote in socially distant lines and dismal in-person turnouts, but a huge rise in absentee ballot returns, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

In Milwaukee, home to about 467,000 voting-age adults, just 18,803 people showed up to vote at the city's five remaining polling places — a 4 percent turnout. Usually the city has 180 polling locations, so people ended up waiting anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours just to vote. In Green Bay, wait times to vote even reached three hours.

Wisconsin's board of elections did report more than a million absentee ballots have been returned as of Wednesday morning. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled absentee ballots had to be mailed by Tuesday despite Evers pushing for an extension. However, many people who'd requested absentee ballots more than two weeks ago hadn't received them as of Tuesday morning, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Wisconsin's GOP-run state legislature had the power to postpone Tuesday's election, and last Friday, Evers called them into a special session and then ordered the election postponed. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday night to let the election proceed, saying mail-in ballots should make up for any in-person voting problems. Kathryn Krawczyk

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