State leaders react to Wisconsin’s pandemic election

NOW: State leaders react to Wisconsin’s pandemic election

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – The spring election proved to be yet another battleground that highlighted the sharp partisan divide between the state’s democratic governor and the republican-controlled Legislature.

“It’s unnecessary,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes told CBS 58 today. “It didn’t have to be this way.”

Barnes had strong words to describe Tuesday’s election, writing in a tweet, “Good morning and welcome to the S—t Show!”

Speaking to CBS 58 in Madison, Barnes said there’s no doubt the election will be put in question.

“There will certainly be a cloud over the election, over the results,” Barnes said. “We should expect court challenges, we should expect general frustration.”

In a statement, Governor Evers expressed worry and admiration for voters and poll workers saying, “Although I remain deeply concerned about the public health implications of voting in-person today, I am overwhelmed by the bravery, resilience, and heroism of those who are defending our democracy by showing up to vote, working the polls, and reporting on this election.”

But republicans who opposed moving the date of the election or switching to an all-mail-in election maintained that proceeding with the election was the best way forward, despite concerns of further spread of coronavirus.

“I don’t know how it would be any different if it were May or June,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told CBS 58. “That’s why I think doing it now with preparation as they did is the best possible answer.”

Vos participated in Tuesday’s election as a poll inspector in the City of Burlington, which only had one polling location that offered a drive-thru option. Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) filed the lawsuit that eventually blocked the governor’s executive order to suspend in-person voting and move the date of the election to June 9.

The executive order came less than 24 hours before Election Day. Both Governor Evers and Speaker Vos said prior conversations resulted in both sides agreeing the election should move forward as planned. Vos accused the governor of political gamesmanship.

“I think it was just very cynical on Governor Evers part to try to throw the election into chaos,” Vos said. “He accomplished his goal but it certainly doesn’t help the people of Wisconsin.”

But Lt. Gov. Barnes believes holding the election as planned is the greater disservice to Wisconsinites.

“People in 2020, in the year of our Lord 2020, are going to be risking their lives to cast a ballot, and that’s the most unfortunate part about this,” Barnes said.

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