Although more than a dozen states have delayed their primary contests as a result of the ongoing public health crisis, Wisconsin controversially forged ahead with its election Tuesday after the state Supreme Court blocked Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ last-minute executive order postponing in-person voting.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority similarly blocked a court order Monday that extended the period to return absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s primary.
Those rulings forced voters in Wisconsin to trek to local polling places in defiance of a statewide shelter-in-place order and the Trump administration’s social-distancing recommendations — endangered by the rampant spread of a highly infectious disease as they sought to exercise their constitutional right.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission provided clerks with protective equipment and guidance to ensure “people could cast their vote in the safest manner possible” if the primary was held, the health department said Friday. But “even with the safeguards polling places and workers put in place, there is some risk that people were exposed to COVID-19 while waiting to vote, casting their vote, or working the polls.”
The department said it expects any cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, that resulted from the election will “begin to appear next week.” Officials warned, however, that the department “will not have a full picture” of the election’s impact on the spread of the coronavirus in Wisconsin for several weeks.