Why The Wisconsin Primaries Should Matter to You

As both November and the general election roll around, talk surrounding voting rights, voter suppression and basically anything voting-related becomes extremely prevalent. In the past, voter suppression was pointed out by activists and select politicians but was generally accepted. Think about it. When you went to vote recently, I’m sure you did not stop and think if your vote would even really count. I don’t mean the “popular vote versus electoral college” argument; I mean whether or not your vote was even considered valid. If you are in one of the few states who do mail-in voting or if you voted absentee, the answer to that question is disappointing. These absentee votes being thrown out are disqualified for simple errors like your signature not matching the exact signature on your driver’s license. If that seems extreme to you, that is because it is. These restrictive tactics are the definition of voter suppression, and now, Republicans are trying to suppress votes through different methods. 

Unlike many other states, Wisconsin’s primaries were right in the middle of this global health pandemic, which presents many problems. For one, voting precincts are everywhereschools, government buildings or in the case of caucuses, private homes. That presents a problem when we are supposed to be quarantined nationwide. Without any other alternatives such as mail-in voting or same-day absentee ballots, Wisconsin residents were almost given an absurd choice: their health or their vote. With this impossible situation in front of them, many Democratic and Independent party members pushed for a postponement of the primaries or an alternative to in-person voting. Even with the Republican pushback, supporters of safe voting got their case all the way to the Supreme Court, where the conservative court ruled in favor of in-person voting to continue as planned. Governor Tony Evers then took this crisis into his own hands and pushed the primaries to June. Yet, the courts stated that Evers could not single-handledly move election dates, so Wisconsin residents voted last week. Regardless of the primary results, it is important to note what took place here. Republicans pushed for in-person voting, not because of any significant benefit for citizens, but because of their desperate desire to win. 

This type of ignorant voter suppression used by Republicans for decades has impacted lower-income communities in unimaginable ways. Whole groups have been marginalized, told their voice just wasn’t big enough to be heard, when in reality, their voices were just suppressed. While this idea of restrictive voting isn’t new, it has begun to impact communities that have never been marginalized in this way, bringing to light what really goes on during election cycles. In the second proposed COVID-19 relief bill, Democrats have been pushing to add alternative voting methods such as mail-in, curbside or appointment voting to the bill for all upcoming elections. Because we are in the middle of an election year, it is imperative, now more than ever, that we finally demand alternative voting methods as our right. As Governor Evers demonstrated, we should never have to choose between our health and our right to participate in democracy.