Mary Beth Writes

I wrote to my Wisconsin Assemblyman Scott Allen and State Senator Chris Kapenga on Tuesday. My letter to them is in the #26 Quarantine Diary.  Read it here. 

Yesterday I rec’d this (emailed) letter back from Senator Kapenga. At first I thought he was replying directly to me but a few minutes later Len rec’d the same form letter. 

I decided to reply to Kapenga’s letter as today’s Quarantine Diary. 

I believe Wisconsin elected Republicans are feeling a lot of heat right now. We are still in national news. 

Here is an action we can do together to help hold their feet to that fire.

After you’ve read this, if you want, comment with a one-word agreement or with your own thoughts. Short or long, just be civil and be clear. Why are you angry that Wisconsin Republicans would not work with Gov Evers to find a solution that would not require people to risk their health in order to vote? 

Next week I will forward our combined voices to my reps as a link. I will post it online, You can, too. My response and your 5 or 10 or however many comments will become one voice.  (And since I control this no-profit website, I will not allow stupid opposition. If there is cogent opposition, I will reply to it at some other time.)

Here is how to read this. 

The letter from Senator Kapenga is the regular font. 

My responses are bolded.

 Hi Mary Beth,

 Thank you for reaching out, and I fully understand your concern. Reasonable people should be able to worry about two things at one time. We can worry about the health our state and the integrity of our elections, but demonizing efforts to balance the two is neither rational nor productive. I was supportive of moving forward with this election based on the information and options that were available.

Sir, the instructions to Americans about how to conduct ourselves during this evolving pandemic have been changing all along. Citizens were told for weeks to stay home and stay inside. Suggestions in the middle of March became mandated instructions in many states including Wisconsin by the beginning of April. To suggest to me and my readers that we are not able to “worry about two things at one” is not the point. Voters expect government to be able to respond to reality when and as it changes.

First, my office reached out to every clerk in our district, and they did not express concern with this election moving forward. When did you reach out to them? Several weeks BEFORE the election? Did you talk to ALL Wisconsin clerks the weekend and day before the election? Each clerk felt prepared to address any challenges. Based on the data and feedback we received, we were confident that this election could be held safely especially regarding the record number of voters utilizing absentee ballots. The reality that there were not enough poll workers to staff voting sites says the election officials WERE concerned.

Second, Wisconsin’s election was different from most other states as we had nearly 4,000 local, elected positions that would have been unfilled without this election. These positions are crucial for nearly every local community trying to manage many responsibilities moving forward. This is just one of the many tangible consequences we had to take into account. Oh please, the US Supreme Court worked for a year with only 8 justices because federal level Republicans would not consider Merrick Garland. You are telling us two-three more months of current officials running our local governments would harm us? Sir, this is an emergency.

Third, some advocated for mailing every registered voter in the state a ballot, but logistically moving to an all-mail-in-election cannot feasibly be done in a short amount of time. For example, it took six years for the state of Washington to fully implement an all-mail in system.  Doing that in a matter of two weeks would not only be impossible but also irresponsible. And yet somehow when I requested an absentee ballot I received it in 3 days? I am the child of a printing family; printers are quite skilled.  I saw that in Waukesha our library staff handled most of the absentee ballot work very efficiently.

 While we may have different perspectives on this, do know that this was not an easy nor a lightly considered decision. Based on the information available from both the Department of Health Services and the Elections Commission, we chose the best option, and I believe this will be clearer as time passes as we are already receiving positive feedback from clerks and constituents on how election day turned out.

I expect this decision by the state Republicans to force this in-person election during a pandemic – might cause it to become one of the most expensive elections in our state’s history. Lawsuits will ensue.  This is from the Mke JS just yesterday: “Baldwin and Johnson cited a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report from Wednesday about missing absentee ballots, which detailed state officials reporting three TUBS of them from Oshkosh and Appleton discovered in a mail processing center”. Also there are questions in Milwaukee and in Fox Point.

Undelivered absentee ballots are being discovered at least three voting sites? So far? This sounds like someone’s plan.

Today news media are telling us that medical reporters are closely covering new Covid cases in Milwaukee and other sites to determine if voting on Tuesday caused MORE infections. If this is so, do you think victims and their families will bring lawsuits?  How much will our state pay in legal fees and monetary judgements?

 For those who are saying this was just playing politics, I would agree that politics did change the narrative of how this election played out. For example, both Gov. Evers and Republican members of the legislature agreed the best option was to move forward with the election. Gov. Evers himself said “Yes, we want people to stay at home, but democracy has to move forward.” Evers also said “Moving this date is not going to solve the problem. We could move it to June, it could be worse in June.” Gov. Evers consistently and publicly agreed for over two weeks with Republicans that this election should be held. However, when a national news article slammed Gov. Evers for not aligning with other Democrats in trying to alter the date of the election he suddenly switched sides and towed the party line just days before the election.

It was my understanding that Gov Evers expected the state Assembly; Republicans and Democrats together, to either come up with an alternative elections date - or to propose an absentee ballot return date that would be several weeks further into the future.  Gov Evers was waiting for elected officials across the state to figure this out, but Republicans stalled until they could manipulate this emergency in order to disenfranchise more voters.

Playing politics means acting for political or personal gain rather than from principle. Gov. Evers publicly said his principles were to protect our democracy and the integrity of our elections. The timeline of his flip-flopping positions certainly appears to be politically motivated.

The timing, as has been said here and many other places – was related to the growing recommendations of other states.  Reality mid-March was not the same reality we all watched the beginning of April. This was and is a growing crisis. 

I maintain my opinion that Wisconsin Republican senators and assembly-persons used this crisis to maintain their power in the State Supreme court.

 

Mary Beth here:

I encourage you to read this. This is how state Republicans, since 2011, have gerrymandered our state in their favor.  THIS is what our current election is about. Maintaining power on the state supreme court so that districts will not change.  Read here. 

 

Comments

Would I risk my life to vote? Maybe, maybe not, but it did not have to be. Something is rotten in Denmark, er, Wisconsin.

My husband and I did not receive our ballots which we requested for the April 7th election. I have health considerations and did not want to vote at our local voting place. All I could do was observe Robin Vos snide face on television pretending to be a concerned public representative. Wake up Wisconsin citizens. Robin Vos and his co-conspirators are not representing you,;they are unconcerned about the health and welfare of Wisconsin citizens.

YES!!!!!!

It saddens & angers me that my friends that are older were unable to get to their voting place for fear of the covid19 virus. It is unjust to not have mailed us our ballots so that the election could have been fair.

I placed my request for an absentee ballot and literally revealed it the next day so why would sending them out to everyone be such a problem... I waited until the last minute because I thought I would vote in person but being a health care worker for a very high risk person I could not in good conscience do that... I know several people who refused to go vote because of the chance of catching this virus... For Robin Vos to have the ordacity to say it was perfectly safe to vote while protected by the kind of outfit that we can't even supply to our health care workers who are wearing garbage bags is a slap in the face to ALL Wisconsin voters...

I am not from Wisconsin, but I stand with you. Voting is sacred as far as I'm concerned. Everything that can be done to insure that all have the opportunity to vote must be done so. By forcing in person voting during this time your officials have taken away the choice from the people. Because how do you choose to not protect your health & ultimately your life?! There is no reason this had to be done!

As a Town of Waukesha resident for the past 40 years, I would like my voice to be heard. I would like my vote to be safely cast, and accurately counted and recorded. There is no reason why any election needs to be done in person, when we have a magnificent Postal Service. This is especially true in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Forcing citizens to either expose themselves to serious illness or death, or to forfeit their sacred right to vote is nothing more than voter suppression, in its most base, and most diabolical application. I demand You respect our right to safely vote. This is not a political game. Please, stop being the mindless minion and political tool of Senator Fitzgerald and Speaker Vos. Please, start representing all the citizens of Waukesha. Waukesha is not a republican monolith. We are diverse in our religious beliefs, our ethnicities, and our political inclinations. And we will be heard.

By refusing to delay the April 7 election, Wisconsin Republicans, endangered lives and suppressed the vote on both sides. My 87-year-old mother, a lifelong Republican, takes pride in showing up to the polls in person. She did not, owing to the virus and your failure to reschedule the vote. Milwaukee's residents had very few polling places, causing long lines that put people at risk of getting sick. Mr. Kapenga and colleagues, stop being childish and reckless and making Wisconsin look ridiculous. We are watching you.
Leonard's picture

The GOP said that the Governor waited too long to print and send ballots for the April election. I don’t believe that, but I’d like to look at the big election, in November. We have a chance to send Tom Palzewicz (tomforwi.com) and Joe Biden - if we can only make it to the polls. Can we start working on a November mail-in voting plan TODAY?

How did the GOP challenge to extending the deadline for absentee ballots to be returned get all the way to the Supreme Court so fast? If the GOP had let the federal district court decision stand, those voters in Oshkosh, Appleton, and many other places whose ballots never made it to their homes might not have been disenfranchised. And insisting on a postmark of April 7 or earlier when the votes won't even be counted until the 13th disenfranchised many more who were not physically able to get to a post office in time when this last minute change took place. Since Oshkosh and Appleton are heavily conservative, it will be poetic justice if those lost votes swing the election to the well qualified Jill Karofsky. I suspect the intention of the GOP was to suppress the vote in progressive and understaffed urban areas where the virus was rampant, while well healed conservative municipalities like Burlington could have voted safely even without the hazmat suits their clerk supplied to workers like Vos.

Republicans wanted to take advantage of the quarantine (and also additionally reducing polling places) to limit voter turnout. Low turnout favors Republican candidates (Regarding maintaining the WI State Supreme Courts conservative advantage.?) Today NYT says about race for your state Supreme Court: ‘That is arguably the most important contest from last Tuesday’s balloting, with the winner in a position to decide a case before the court that could purge more than 200,000 people from the Wisconsin vote rolls in a critical battleground swing state for the presidential campaign.’) So they insisted on holding the election hoping no one would come out to vote, in order to purge people from future voting?! Wacky cheaters. (My most appropriate description for the Rep. politicians) It’s frightening.

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