Voting Shouldn’t Be a Life or Death Choice: What You Can Do About It

\Patricia McKnight/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Throughout American history, brave people have risked their lives to secure our right to vote. Rather, we hoped that was history. It turns out it was Tuesday.

In Wisconsin, voters waited 5 hours or more in lines, in the middle of a pandemic, to vote in an election that should have never happened when it did. Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers pleaded with the Republican-controlled legislature to postpone the vote, as was done in other states. They wouldn’t, so he did. He pleaded with the Republican-controlled State Supreme Court to let his postponement stand. They refused. He pleaded with the U.S. Supreme Court to at least make it easier to vote-by-mail and avoid disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters. They refused.

Every step of the way, Republicans in positions of power were ok with forcing Wisconsinites to choose between risking their lives to vote or staying home and not being counted. Republicans hoped suppressing the vote would  help them secure a critical State Supreme Court seat. That raw power play apparently warranted putting lives at risk. And while the results of the election have not been announced, it looks like their evil strategy worked; voting levels appear to be significantly down from 2016 primary levels.

With the November election fast approaching, what now? We know from previous pandemics like the 1918 Influenza that it’s very possible the virus will come in waves (the deadliest period in 1918 was the second wave, from September through November).

We must prepare for a safe general election, and that means bringing vote-by-mail access to every state in the country. It needs to happen immediately to give states ample time to prepare. According to the just released Reuters/Ipsos poll, 72% of Americans, including 79% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans, agree.

Our Senators and Members of Congress must hear from us. Call and email them and tell them the next COVID-19 relief bill must include universal vote-by-mail in every state.

Please mobilize everyone you know to take this easy action. You can share this link, share the Facebook post, and share the Twitter post. Get the word out. We can’t let the Wisconsin nightmare become just another forgotten outrage.

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