The ability to vote by mail, which has long been a feature of California elections, has become needed nationwide more than ever during this time of social distancing. However, numerous states have not fully implemented this process, causing many voters to be left facing a decision between their right to vote and risking their health.
Despite efforts made throughout the coronavirus pandemic to postpone the voting period, last week’s Wisconsin primary election still continued as planned. There were a total of 1,287,827 requests for an absentee vote, but only 1,003,422 were counted, leaving at least 284,405 voters left with their only option being to head to a polling station, in person, to vote, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
However, that still left many voters out in the dark being that Milwaukee went from its usual 180 open polling locations to only five due to a shortage of polling workers, as a result of the pandemic. Long lines of an estimated 19,000 Milwaukee voters formed as they were left with no other choice, leading to unsafe conditions as their only option was to vote in person regardless of any social distancing measures in place.
These voters were presented with the difficult decision to either accept these risky conditions or forfeit their vote. Other states with upcoming primaries need to accept the influx of voting by mail requests for not only the safety of their constituents, but for the fairness of the democratic process as well.
The Republican controlled Wisconsin legislature needlessly risked the lives of voters when it rejected Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order for an all mail-in election. Although Evers tried to postpone in-person voting with what he could, he was still shot down within minutes of holding a special session to address these issues, needlessly putting the lives of Wisconsin’s residents at risk.
This amounts to a form of voter suppression. If the 2020 elections are to continue as planned, there must be a system put in place to ensure that every single American has their vote counted in a way that does not put the health of the community at risk. Voters should never have to put their life on the line just to ensure their right to a vote is counted.
Voting by mail must be implemented nationwide so as to ensure the fairness of the democratic process.