Tom Nelson
Op Ed

Holding the Election Could Kill People

Vos and Fitzgerald must wake up. There's overwhelming evidence that people gathering for election will spread disease.

By - Apr 5th, 2020 07:06 pm
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Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald.

Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald.

Anyone trying to make sense of GOP resistance to Governor Tony Evers’ common-sense call to end in-person voting need only refer to history. Judging from Wisconsin Republicans’ cavalier attitude toward limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it’s fair to assume they haven’t.

Just over 100 years ago, communities around the country ignored warnings that the Spanish Flu was not only lethal, but capable of spreading exponentially. Parades marched on. Church services continued. Schools remained open. Fear of an unseen microbe wasn’t enough to persuade skeptics that it was safer at home.

In 1918, Nebraska’s Wayne County lifted a ban on public gatherings just five days before the fall general election, just as the Spanish Flu was peaking in the plain states. According to Kristin Wilkins of Pikes Peak Community College (Colorado Springs), an authority in pandemics:

…lifting of the quarantine also had the greatest number of obituaries and notices of illness of influenza or pneumonia to date. The disease appeared to be reaching a significant amount of the population, greater than ever before; and the timing coincides with the lifting of the quarantine.

More recently, Michigan proceeded with its March 10 primary as scheduled. The Wolverine State’s recent uptick in cases is attributed in part to—you guessed it—In-person voting.

Of course, we know much more about epidemiology today than in the wake of World War I, but one incontrovertible fact hasn’t changed: quarantine works. Pretending business is usual contributes to a pandemic. If Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald were to read history, they’d know that in 1918, indifference to contagion cost 17 million lives. That’s an awful price to pay for apathy.

The GOP legislature must reconvene. Its job is to fix this mess and it ought not abdicate responsibility. If it does, Governor Evers may have no choice but to invoke emergency authority to stop in-person voting, lest history repeat itself.

Tom Nelson is the Outagamie County Executive.

More about the 2020 Spring Primary

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Categories: Health, Op-Ed, Politics

2 thoughts on “Op Ed: Holding the Election Could Kill People”

  1. blurondo says:

    The fear is that if the governor would use emergency authority, the Republicans would immediately appeal his decision to their bought and paid for Wisconsin Supreme Court. The court would immediately restrain the governor from using that authority. In their decision they could include provisions that would limit gubernatorial power forever.
    These are very serious and real considerations for all Wisconsin residents and the ability for its govenment to function.

  2. Dan Hulbert says:

    We must remember that Voss and Fitzgerald really don’t care what happens to people. The only thing that moves them is furthering their partisan agenda and maintaining their power.

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