Weaponizing the Pandemic
April in-person election amounted to Republican terrorism. The way forward is voting by mail.
April 7th, 2020 marked a tragic day for Wisconsin. In an affront to expert opinions, the medical establishment, and the health of hard-working Wisconsinites, Wisconsin Republicans, led by Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald, fought tooth and nail to hold an in person election during a global pandemic. This is the logical extension and newest low in their racist war for voter suppression.
On the morning of Election Day, while COVID-19 infection rates continued to soar across our state and country, we were confronted by the image of Robin Vos telling us it was “incredibly safe to go out” while dressed like a PPE-clad Grim Reaper. Now, to outside observers, this callous disregard for the democratic process shown by Republican politicians may have seemed like an unfortunate, ill-advised, one-off event. “Their hands were tied,” said some; “they were just following the law,” said others – but convenient, flimsy excuses do not make up for the fact that Republicans pushing for Tuesday’s election to continue apace was part of a pattern: Republican politicians like Vos and Fitzgerald have been fighting to disenfranchise voters for years.
Since gaining power in the 2010 midterm elections, the new breed of Wisconsin Republican epitomized by Vos, Fitzgerald, and their lackeys both inside and outside of the State Capitol has demonstrated a lust for power that must be fed at all costs. Far from being the type of “conservatives” who actually strive to conserve our institutions and norms, these new Republicans are willing to do whatever it takes to maintain their grip on power. From the radical gerrymandering that they’ve used to choose their own voters, to instituting stringent voter ID laws to combat (nearly-nonexistent) voter fraud, to trying to limit early voting and ending day-of voter registration, these Republicans have thumbed their nose at true, representative democracy at every turn. And why? Because Republicans have determined that low voter turnout benefits their political survival. Think about that – where once the Republican Party believed in fighting the war of ideas and standing on policy proposals, Republicans today have decided that rules, honor, and mutual respect are no more than roadblocks to be done away with as they wage total war against our nation’s founding ideals.
But try as they might, we can’t let the political death cultists in the Republican Party continue to sacrifice the lives of American citizens who want nothing more than to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. We cannot let them get away with terrorism.
The path forward is clear. It is time to stand united with one voice, and call upon Republicans to recommit themselves to the war of ideas, rather than the deadly war they’ve been waging. It is time to end the voter disenfranchisement perpetuated by constant attacks on election processes, like voter registration and access to the polls. And it is time for Wisconsin to move to vote-by-mail elections like those practiced in Utah, Washington, Oregon, or Colorado.
Vote-by-mail elections are representative, they are efficient, and they have been shown to drive up voter participation across the board. Vote-by-mail is the way forward, both during this pandemic and beyond. A representative democracy requires free and fair elections, and free and fair elections require a political climate in which as many people as possible can vote.
Rep. Jonathan Brostoff represents the 19th State Assembly District in the city of Milwaukee.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlights public health measures taken by the Milwaukee Health and Fire Departments, Department of Administration, Election Commission, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Aug 4th, 2020
- CDC Says Election Did Not Cause COVID-19 Spike - Erik Gunn - Aug 4th, 2020
- Pandemic Reduced Black Vote, Study Finds - Dee J. Hall - Jun 25th, 2020
- Did April Election Hike COVID-19 Cases? - Alana Watson - May 20th, 2020
- Elections Commission Notes ‘Lessons Learned’ - Henry Redman - May 19th, 2020
- Wisconsin Elections News: WEC Releases Analysis of Absentee Voting in April 7 Spring Election - Wisconsin Elections Commission - May 18th, 2020
- Election’s Impact on County’s COVID-19 Cases Unclear - Jeramey Jannene - May 6th, 2020
- Why State’s Voting By Mail Was Chaotic - Daniel C. Vock - May 4th, 2020
- At Least 40 COVID-19 Cases Tied to Election in Milwaukee - Graham Kilmer - Apr 24th, 2020
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- Gov. Evers, DHS Announce 1 Million Wisconsinites Have Received at Least One Dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine - Gov. Tony Evers - Mar 5th, 2021
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Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here