In-person voting continues in Wisconsin despite concerns from public health officials

MADISON, Wis. — Despite warnings from public health officials, Tuesday’s in-person voting went on.

While some in the state consider that a win, there are many others frustrated with the decision.

“This is no way to hold an election, and we didn’t have to do it this way,” said Ben Wikler, the chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Despite a last-minute attempt from the governor to push the election to June, the state Supreme Court ruled he didn’t have the power to do it. The court left only one part of the executive order, a special session of the legislature to find another day to hold in-person voting that was left moot by the ruling.

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, one of the leaders of the push to hold the election on Tuesday, was the only one in the Senate for that. Afterward, he wouldn’t answer questions.

Protesters, such as Laura Valderrama, waited outside the session, frustrated with how all of state government handled the election.

“Governor Evers should have acted earlier, should have demonstrated leadership earlier,” she said. “I’m a supporter of his, but I’m just massively disappointed.”

Elected officials urged people to vote absentee to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on Election Day, but those who had not yet received their ballot in the mail had to vote in person.

Chris Astrella, the town clerk in Oakland, said he was able to get all requested ballots out in time, but he said getting them back in time for the deadline “could be a challenge.” He said many people chose to hand deliver their ballots to be sure.

“Today is my 50th election,” Astrella said. “I have truly never experienced anything like this before.”

The election has already led to multiple lawsuits filed at both the state and federal levels, and if problems at the polls on Tuesday lead to people losing the right to vote in this election, Wikler said even more litigation could be coming.

“We’re going to find out after today how many people were disenfranchised, what it looks like, and frankly I’ve heard from candidates who are already preparing to file lawsuits calling into question what happens today,” he said.