Pandemic politics: Wisconsin voting underway amid coronavirus pandemic

Pandemic politics: Wisconsin voting underway amid coronavirus pandemic

Updated: 11:18 a.m. on April 7, 2020 

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Thousands of voters head to the polls for the primary election amid the coronavirus outbreak and warnings from health officials. 

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm had a stern warning ahead of Tuesday's primary. 

"In-person voting, by definition, inhibits are ability to physically distance and the recent consolidation of polling places in many parts of Wisconsin would result in mass gatherings. In-person voting, without question, accelerates the transmission of COVOID-19, and increase the number of cases, and increase the number of death in Wisconsin would result in more deaths,” Palm said. 

Despite the warning, lines formed around South Division High School Tuesday morning, but voters were practicing social distancing.

It also didn't stop state Republicans from making sure the primary happened. Brad Hoeschen, the chief election inspector for the South Division High School polling place, said despite only having about 50 poll workers, everything was running smoothly. 

"We feel like given the circumstances, how quickly we had to organize this location with Sixty Six wards from three different aldermanic districts. We do have it pretty organized," Hoeschen said. 

So, how did we get here? 

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the State Supreme Court to strike down Gov. Tony Evers' executive order he issued to suspend in-person voting and move the election to June 9. 

State Republicans praised the U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

Hoeschen said despite his location running smoothly, he hopes this election is unique. 

"Everybody should get out and vote and hopefully we won’t have to do it this way again," said Hoeschen.  

Polling officials say as long as you are in line by 8 p.m., you will be able to cast your ballot. 

Absentee ballots need to be postmarked by Tuesday, April 7 in order to be counted. 

Ballots will be counted Monday, April 13. 

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Published: 10:45 a.m. on April 7, 2020 

By SCOTT BAUER and STEVE PEOPLES Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Hundreds of voters in Wisconsin are waiting in line to cast ballots at polling places for the state's presidential primary election. They're ignoring a stay-at-home order over the coronavirus threat.

Some poll workers, including the Republican state assembly speaker, are wearing masks, gloves and what appeared to be surgical scrubs.

The National Guard is helping run voting sites across the state after thousands of election workers stepped down fearing for their safety.

Dozens of polling places are closed, but others opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday. The Election Day chaos underscores the lengths to which the coronavirus outbreak has upended politics. 

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