Wisconsin is moving forward with plans to hold its primary election next Tuesday, creating a chaotic scenario that's left state and local election officials scrambling to hold a primary in the middle of a pandemic.
Wisconsin elections officials are trying to keep up as absentee ballots surge, poll workers drop out and supplies are in short demand a week away from a primary in which in-person voting is still set to proceed — despite Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home order and 1,351 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state as of this afternoon.
Other states with April primaries have postponed them or shifted those contests to vote-by-mail only.
But in Wisconsin, the governor has said he won't delay the election. Republicans who control the state legislature have enacted strict voter identification laws in recent years, meanwhile, are refusing Evers' request — made last week, 11 days before the election — to quickly enact a law that would send absentee ballots to every voter in the state.
This has left some Wisconsin voters to decide between exercising their constitutional right to vote and their safety and local election officials searching for poll workers and supplies. And a last-minute flurry of lawsuits — five were filed in recent days — could still change the rules.
"The Wisconsin election will be like nothing anyone alive has ever experienced," said Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "Everyone involved in this election is scrambling to try to make democracy work in an impossible situation."