Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of Wisconsin’s state Assembly, urged voters to head to the polls Tuesday while wearing full personal protective equipment, assuring them, “You are incredibly safe to go out.”
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, had attempted to move in-person voting back to June due to safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the state’s Supreme Court ruled against his executive order 4-2, with the four conservative justices opposed and the two liberal justices agreeing with Evers.
In an interview with the Journal Times, Vos, who was serving as an elections inspector, told Wisconsin residents it was perfectly safe to vote and it “made no sense to cancel the election.”
“[Voters] have very minimal exposure. Actually there’s less exposure here than if you went to the grocery store or to Walmart,” said Vos, protecting himself with a gown, gloves and a face mask, which he said were mandatory.
Vos was working the polls and said the election needed to be held in April because there were chances things could be worse in May or June. In addition to the Democratic presidential primary, Wisconsin voters were casting ballots for a state Supreme Court seat, one of those currently held by a conservative justice.
After the Wisconsin state court struck down Evers’s executive order, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling of its own, with the five conservative justices reversing a lower court that had granted voters six additional days to turn in absentee ballots. Wisconsin Republicans and the Republican National Committee had appealed that ruling. More Wisconsin voters requested absentee ballots this year than ever before — around 1.1 million — and with state workers overwhelmed and mail service disrupted, some voters hadn’t even received theirs by the deadline to turn them in.
In Milwaukee, the usual 180 voting precincts were reduced to just five, with voters waiting many hours in line to cast their ballots.
Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.