As the 2020 election unfolded last year, you may have felt what I remember feeling. “Whatever happens going forward, we will definitely be making it easier to vote!”
You remember the scenes. Long lines in the limited number of polling places in our largest cities. The Leader of our Assembly resisted all efforts to respond to the COVID crisis while showing up as a poll worker in a head-to-toe HAZMAT suit! Absentee ballot delays.
Most significant for me was volunteering for a non-partisan GOTV call campaign reminding folks of the Absentee Ballot deadlines. I encountered elderly voters who were truly scared to vote-in-person but unable to navigate the process to get an Absentee Ballot. Or worse, not receiving their Absentee Ballot and facing the prospect of not being able to exercise their franchise through the fear of getting sick.
Surely going forward, I thought (perhaps naively) our state will come together and make sure voting becomes easier and straightforward. Was I wrong?
The WI GOP sowed the seeds of mistrusting election results by questioning the legitimacy of the large number of absentee ballots in the largest cities. And then they reap the benefits of the mistrust claiming they need new laws to restore trust! And it is ongoing.
Those new laws complicate the Absentee Ballot process, place rules on who can hand in absentee ballots, and keep clerks from correcting minor errors on application papers (e.g. “Oh Rosey forgot to put her full address as a witness to Fred’s Absentee Ballot”). There are other proposed changes, many in lock-step with the national discredited “Stop-the-Steal” mania stoked by the defeated former President.
Thankfully we have Governor Evers as a backstop to all of this chicanery and dishonest outrage. Other states like PA, TX and GA are not so lucky.
When January 6th 2022 comes around, let’s remember that our democracy was on the brink, and go to myvote.wi.gov and set up your absentee ballot requests for the year. And find 5 other folks to get registered to vote or help them get set up to vote absentee. Voting is at the core of our democracy.