New York Times Blasts State Republicans
"You Shouldn’t Have to Risk Your Life to Vote," editorial declares.
The Wisconsin election has been big news nationally, but nowhere more powerfully than in a New York Times editorial published yesterday, which blasted this state’s Republican leaders, for “holding a primary election in a pandemic.”
“In their zeal to ram through this vote,” the editorial noted, “Republicans are subjecting Wisconsinites to the worst of both worlds: a turnout that will be sharply reduced because so many voters will continue to do the right thing and abide by the stay-at-home order, and yet one that will still be large enough to inundate the few precincts that will be open, and expose untold numbers of people to potential infection…
“This is insane, and utterly unnecessary. Fifteen states, including four with primaries scheduled for this coming week, have already postponed their elections; several have canceled all in-person voting and are relying solely on mail-in ballots.
“Republicans insist that widespread mail voting would be an invitation for voter fraud, even though evidence suggests fraud is actually lower in states with all-mail balloting. They also argue it would be logistically impossible to print and mail so many ballots before Tuesday. If so, then why not just push back the election, as Mr. Evers has proposed? The answer can only be that Republican legislators don’t want people to vote.
“These are the same Republicans, you might recall, who in 2011 gerrymandered Wisconsin’s legislative district maps so egregiously that they were able to win more than 60 percent of the seats while losing the statewide popular vote to Democrats.
“These are the same Republicans who, with that ill-gotten majority, passed a strict voter-ID law that denied ballot access to black and Latino Wisconsinites at far higher rates than whites. The law reduced turnout in 2016 by 200,000 votes from 2012, in a key battleground state that Donald Trump won by fewer than 23,000.
“And these are the same Republicans who, knowing that Wisconsin could be a decisive state in the 2020 election, are hoping to lock in a state judge’s recent purge of more than 230,000 voters, disproportionately from Democratic-voting areas. The judge’s ruling, which targeted voters believed to have moved, has been appealed to the State Supreme Court.”
The editorial noted that the battle over how to handle Wisconsin’s election exemplifies a national trend, a point also made in a Times news story, “Wisconsin Election Fight Heralds a National Battle Over Virus-Era Voting.” Looking towards the fall presidential election at a time when social distancing may still be needed, Democrats are pushing for a law requiring mail-in-ballot-only elections, while President Donald Trump and other Republicans condemn such proposals. “I hope not, but I fear Wisconsin is a preview of what we’re about to see in the rest of the country,” Ben Wikler, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, told the newspaper.
“The only good that could come of this travesty would be the demonstration of what happens when huge numbers of voters can’t cast a ballot, either in person or by mail,” the editorial declared. “If you are concerned about voter turnout becoming a nationwide problem in November’s general election — and you should be — pay attention to what happens in Wisconsin’s benighted primary. Republicans hope it will be a harbinger of our future. All Americans who care about democracy need to ensure that it isn’t.”
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