Like many other states, Wisconsin's elected leaders were befuddled about what to do, if anything, regarding the general spring elections and presidential primary, which is scheduled for tomorrow, April 7. However, thanks to the Republican-controlled legislature, the election has become a full-fledged clusterfuck.
Weeks ago, Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, started pushing for the election to be held as scheduled but asked for the Republicans to change the law to allow it to be all done with mail-in ballots.
The Republicans refused, stating that they didn't wan't think that COVID-19 was all that contagious. Despite the Republicans official stance, officials and politicians of both parties started pushing for voters to request an absentee ballot. The system became overwhelmed with more than a million people asking for their mail-in ballots, and counties ran out of ballots, creating a backlog where several people have not received their ballots weeks after making the request. (My wife and I made our requests early on and have already returned the completed ballots.)
In the meantime, the County Clerks for both Milwaukee and Dane Counties, in an effort to make voting even safer, ruled that people didn't need to have a witness sign the ballots. Predictably, the Republicans had a meltdown about this because both counties are Democratic strongholds and sued to stop this. After a series of hearings, it was decided that the witness signature was indeed needed but they had an extra week to return the ballots.
Rather belatedly, Evers called for a special session for the state legislature, scheduled for this past Saturday so that the Republicans could postpone the election date. The Republicans, led by Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos and Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald, gaveled in and immediately gaveled out of session, postponing any decision to Monday, the day before the elections. On Monday, the refused to postpone the elections. They'd rather needlessly expose poll workers and voters to the COVID-19 virus rather than allow people the ability to safely exercise their right to democracy.
Following the Republicans absolute refusal to do their jobs, Evers issued an Executive Order postponing the in-person voting until June 9, citing the health risk of having it as scheduled while confirmed COVID-19 cases are spiking.
Guess what the Republicans did? Yup, they had another temper tantrum and immediately started to file an appeal with the State Supreme Court, saying that Evers didn't have the authority to issue such an order. Again, because this cannot be overemphasized, the Republicans are saying that they would rather see democracy and voters die rather than be adults about the whole thing.
Even if Evers' order stands, it presents a new set of issues, since many of the races in the general election were local races and the winners were to be seated later this month or in early May. Again, this is an issue that could have been resolved if the Republicans chose to do their jobs instead of turning their grandstanding into a shitshow.
All that said, the Republicans haven't been just sitting on their butts but are concerned about things that are more important to them, such as lifting the ban on many non-essential business because MONEY. At the same time, they want Evers to open up the golf courses and attend Easter and Passover services, because nothing says fellowship like contaminating each other with a potentially deadly virus.
And of course, while they want all these things to get opened, the Republicans also want Planned Parenthood to be classified as non-essential and the clinics closed. In other words, golfing is a necessity in life, but women's healthcare is just a trivial nicety.
I certainly hope that the voters will remember all this when the spring elections are held as well as in November, when we get to decide which is more important - our very lives or their political careers.
UPDATE (Karoli): At the moment we published this, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to reinstate tomorrow's in-person voting.
In a brief 4-2 ruling, the court undid an emergency order that Evers issued that would have closed the polls. Their decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by Republican lawmakers.
Monday's on-again, off-again election triggered chaos across the state as election officials told clerks to continue preparing for an election because they did not know whether the polls would open.
Wisconsin Republicans are the worst Republicans.
UPDATE 2: Trump's SCOTUS has weighed in and said that all those absentee ballots postmarked after tomorrow don't count.