The Wisconsin primary and Voting Rights for Whom ?

Jill+Karofsky+and+Dan+Kelly

^^ Jill Karofsky, the Democrat, defeated incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, in last night’s Wisconsin election.

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Last night, Jill Karofsky, the Democratic challenger, won an eleven point in over Republican incumbent Dan Kelly to become a Supreme Court justice of that State.

The vote was 856,315 to 692,956.

Turnout was low, for reasons that should never have happened. There’s no excuse for the botched voting that took place. Election days should be sure — not postponed for any reason, nor trifled with– and both Governor and legislature worked to confuse both the election and the voting public.  The Republican-controlled legislature wanted the election to go forward as scheduled — but they also wanted all absentee ballots to be received by election day. Given the pandemic, that was unlikely. Thousands of voters who had no plans to vote absentee were lately forced to request absentee ballots because it became risky fort them to vote in person, given the imperatives of social distancing. Governor Evers, a Democrat, wanted the election date postponed, or, if not , then  he wanted the date for receiving absentee ballots to be extended by one week. The legislator Republicans sad no.

There was more. Polling places in the city of Milwaukee were reduced from 180 to five (!!)(, and a similar shut down was decreed in Madison, the State Capital, a heavily Democratic city.

Clearly the intention of these actions was to suppress the vote, in the State’s two very Democratic cities, in order to boost Republican Dan Kelly’s chances of winning re-election. We know now that it didn’t work, but it might have. Fortunately for those who were incommoded by the curtailment of voting access, voters proved stronger than their opponents anticipated. Turnout in the two cites wasn’t high, but it was dramatic. Karofsky won Madison 80 percent to 18 percent and Milwaukee by 68 to 32. Together, the two cities gave her a 220,000 vote margin.

Kelly won three-quarters of the suburban and rural counties, but by much reduced margins. The enthusiasm for voting was enormous among Karofsky supporters everywhere.

Americans do not like having their voting rights curtailed.

Wisconsin is not the only State in which vote suppression has occurred recently. States controlled by Republicans have, in some cases, closed polling places in neighborhoods heavily populated by people of color; they have moved other polling places from easy access to remote corners of precincts. Some states refuse to restore ex-felons’ voting rights. (Take the case of Florida : voters overwhelmingly enacted a ballot initiative restoring ex-felons’ voting rights, but the State then tried to impose a requirement that such people pay all outstanding criminal; case fees. It took a high Court ruling to prevent that.) Other Republican States want to impose burdensome voting ID requirements, or to rush voters off the active voting list if they don’t happen to vote in one election.

Most of these burdens expressly targeted people of color — because voters of color overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

No one in America should ever support such suppressions. The right to vote is the paramount power that voters exercise over our governments. Curtailment of that power, in any way, for any reason, taints our democracy, taints it with illegitimacy. Faith in our public institutions has fallen far enough. We cannot permit such loss of faith to go on at all, much less worsen.

Every voter should be accorded the maximum feasible opportunity to vote. No one should be allowed to manipulate the Election Day, for any reason, so as to impede some blocks of voters. No one should have authority to decrease the number of polling places — minor consolidations excepted, in good faith— or to locate a polling place more than walking distance entombed any voter listed in that precinct. No election authority or commission should be allowed to purge its voter list except by diligent, good faith monitoring of death notices and residency inquiries annually sent.

It’s sad that any of the above needs be said.

In Wisconsin, every party acted out of school, of base partisan purpose, to ensure a snafu result. The Democratic Governor erred in seeking to delay Election Day. The Republican legislature erred in demanding Election Day take place as scheduled without attempting agreement with Governor Evers.

This cannot happen again. The November election right now looks to put paid to the Presidency of Donald Trump and to elect Joe Biden. If that;s what the voters want, that is what they should have, indeed must be allowed to have. It is the voters’ right. Nuff’ said.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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