Wisconsin Pushing Ahead With April 7 Primary Election Despite Coronavirus Concerns

Gov. Tony Evers said Monday that he plans on issuing a statewide stay-at-home order. He has encouraged people to vote via absentee ballot.

Wisconsin’s April 7 primary election is expected to go ahead despite concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus and the state’s stay-at-home order, Gov. Tony Evers (D) said Monday.

Evers said he was determined to keep the election date despite political and community pressure to delay the vote ― and the recent decisions by several states including Rhode Island, Georgia and Louisiana to postpone their own elections.

The governor explained that Wisconsin’s ballot doesn’t just include the presidential primary, but also many local elected offices which could remain unfilled for weeks or months if the date is changed. These include many mayoral and county seats, whose occupants may be called upon to make critical decisions during the coronavirus crisis, NPR noted.

“I just want to make sure people understand the complexity of our spring general election. It’s not a primary election. It’s only a primary election for the presidential candidates,” Evers told reporters last week.

“How long do we potentially leave offices not filled because we’re into July, August and we haven’t held a general election?” he added.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday explained the voting options available to Wisconsin residents.

The state has no-excuse absentee voting, the paper noted, and voters have until April 2 to request an absentee ballot online, by email, fax or through the mail. Officials, however, have recommended voters request a mail-in ballot as soon as possible because of the surge of such ballots expected. 

In-person early voting may also still be available at local clerks’ offices ― though this may soon change. Milwaukee recently canceled in-person early voting in an effort to safeguard the well-being of election workers; the Journal Sentinel noted that other areas may soon do the same. Residents should check their municipal court’s website to find out more about early voting, the paper said.

Evers encouraged voters on Monday to cast mail-in ballots from the comfort and safety of their own homes ― something he said he and his wife had already done. 

“It’s very easy,” the governor said. “If we can do it, you can do it.”

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