Wisconsin Gov. Evers calls for election to be postponed

You can’t spell REVERSE without Evers. Gov. Evers of Wisconsin has reversed himself at the last minute and is now calling for a delay of the state’s primary election, which is scheduled for next Tuesday:

In a reversal, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced he wants to postpone his state’s Tuesday election. The Democrat called the state legislature into a special session on Saturday to take up legislation that would avoid in-person voting and create an all-mail election with a deadline of May 26 to return ballots.

Evers had previously called for a predominantly mail-in election, but not for the election to be postponed. Republicans rejected Evers’ earlier push for ballots to be mailed to every registered voter.

As recently as yesterday Evers’ office was saying he would not call for a delay of the election. “Our democracy is essential, it must go on,” Evers’ spokesperson told Politico Thursday. Meanwhile, Democrats in Wisconsin are furious that Evers hasn’t done more to deal with this before now:

In interviews with POLITICO, more than a dozen Democratic officials in the state expressed frustration that Evers didn’t act sooner. They argue that he hasn’t tapped the full range of his powers, such as calling for a special legislative session or announcing an election delay and forcing someone to stop him. That’s essentially what Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did last month, even in the face of an adverse court ruling…

“It’s been a cataclysmic failure,” said one Wisconsin-based Democratic strategist who supported Evers’ 2018 campaign. “It has been disappointment after disappointment. I do not believe that he’s shown leadership or good judgment during this crisis.”

It’s not clear why Gov. Evers had a sudden change of heart today, however it was increasingly clear that going ahead with the election would be a potential health disaster. Last week there were reports that, because of a severe shortage of poll workers, the number of polling places in Milwaukee would drop from the normal 180 to perhaps 10 or 12. The city’s mayor called going ahead with the election under those circumstances, “irresponsible.” Today the city announced the number of polling locations was being reduced to just five:

The City of Milwaukee has named five centers available for in-person voting on Election Day, April 7. Three aldermanic districts will be assigned to each voting center. Due to insufficient staffing levels, the City’s usual 180 neighborhood-based voting sites will not be open.

The population of Milwaukee is nearly 600,000 people. Some estimate that up to 140,000 could vote in this election. Many of them will be using mail-in ballots, but with only five polling locations there’s a real possibility you could have crowds of hundreds of people gathering throughout the day in the midst of a pandemic. That’s obviously not a very good idea.

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