People are casting lots of blame on both the Democratic-run executive branch and Republican-majority legislative branch of Wisconsin government for the fact voters had to stand in line, many for hours, to vote in the Wisconsin presidential primary and local general election during the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Tony Evers tells WTMJ’s Steve Scaffidi Show that despite all his private efforts to work with Republicans to move the election to a day where the coronavirus pandemic would not have had such an effect, the GOP’s legislative leaders would have no part of it.
“It was my obligation to work with the legislature to get a postponement. We tried,” he said to Steve.
Those didn’t work, leading Governor Evers to take a step he had previously said he knew would not work: Issuing an executive order on Monday to move the election back to June, an order put out less than 24 hours before the election.
“By the time they had gaveled out the last time (during legislative sessions), I was going to have to have an order. Clearly, the Republican Party said ‘No, we’re going to take this to the Supreme Court.’ “
That led to so-far countless thousands of voters going to the polls Tuesday, some – but not all – practicing social distancing or wearing a mask over their face for safety reasons.
“When you have fewer polling places and people who want to vote in a pandemic, it’s a mess,” Evers said.
“We’ll see if there’s a spike (of cases) because of (people) standing for four hours in the rain…people were putting their health at risk.”
All this reflects the antagonistic relationship between both sides of the aisle in Wisconsin politics, a relationships bred over years if not decades of increasing rancor, reflected not only in the events of this week, but in the newest chapter of coronavirus-related political moves.
Those include the newest coronavirus legislation being discussed – one which includes giving the legislative Joint Finance Committee, currently controlled by Republicans, unilateral capability to make state budget cuts.
“Giving the Joint Finance Committee powers…to cut budgets and take over state government, did I voice an opinion on that out loud? Yes. Of course. Why would I not? They put a poison pill in there for a reason. Privately negotiating that away seems ridiculous,” he said.
“It’s all childish…we do need to make it work better.”