Fifty-two out of 400,000 in-person voters and poll workers who participated in Wisconsin’s controversial primary have since tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and Wisconsin officials are not certain that those individuals — none of whom have died — contracted the virus at polling stations on Election Day.
Wisconsin proceeded in holding its in-person election in early April, despite attempts from Gov. Tony Evers (D) to postpone the vote. The Republican legislature challenged his order, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court allowed the election to proceed as planned. Democrats warned that an in-person election would jeopardize the health of Wisconsin residents. However, out of the hundreds of thousands of residents who headed to the polls in Wisconsin on April 7, only a few dozen people — including poll workers — have since contracted the coronavirus.
Additionally, “several” of the individuals who appeared at the polls April 7 and have since tested positive “also reported other ways they may have been exposed to the virus,” the Wisconsin Department of Health Services indicated this week. At best, then, the infection rate amounts to approximately 0.013% of those who voted in person with a 0.00% fatality rate.
“Because of that, it’s unclear if those people contracted the virus at the polls,” the Associated Press reported.
DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the state will stop asking individuals who test positive for the virus if they went to the polls after next week, as enough time has elapsed to cover the virus’s average incubation period.
“We’re getting to the point where the door will be closing on those,” she said.
The news comes as Democrats at all levels of government seize on coronavirus fears, using the situation in Wisconsin as a catalyst to demand universal vote-by-mail. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) even accused the Supreme Court of “undermining of our democracy.”
“You have the Supreme Court of the United States undermining our democracy,” Pelosi told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow this month. “It’s really shameful. Five to four, surprise, surprise”:
"People should not have to decide whether they can vote or be sick. That's just not a good choice for anyone in a democracy."
…"You have the Supreme Court of the United States undermining our democracy. It's really shameful. Five to four, surprise, surprise."
-Speaker Pelosi pic.twitter.com/OgzH8NJoz2
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) April 7, 2020
Activist and failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) cited Wisconsin’s election to peddle vote-by-mail, releasing a document outlining key takeaways from the state’s primary. In that analysis, she contends that the U.S. must maximize participation in vote-by-mail and embrace ballot harvesting:
The Wisconsin primary showed the challenges for our democracy amid #COVID19. We must expand use of vote by mail and make in-person voting safe.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) April 29, 2020
Wisconsin is slated to hold a special congressional election May 12. Voters can request absentee ballots until May 7.