News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The chaos and confusion in Wisconsin this week is a cautionary tale for the rest of the country in the age of Covid-19, according to Perriello and Ispahani.

What's needed nationally, and fast, to prevent Wisconsin from replicating

Perriello, a former Democratic congressman from Virginia, and Ispahani are executive director and managing director of the U.S. operation for the Open Society Foundations, created by billionaire George Soros to promote democracy and combat intolerance around the world.

It's been an astonishing few days for Wisconsin.

First, Gov. Tony Evers, acting on growing concerns about the safety of voters heading to the polls amid the coronavirus crisis, issued an executive order abruptly calling a halt to in-person voting on the eve of the Tuesday election. The GOP-led Legislature filed suit and the state Supreme Court blocked Evers' order, allowing voting to proceed despite the difficulties of adhering to social distancing guidance inherent in crowds gathering at polling places. The U.S. Supreme Court then weighed in, striking down efforts to extend the window for absentee voting.

The result: a confused electorate left to decide whether to risk their health by heading to the ballot box or silence their voices and forfeit their franchise by sitting out the state's presidential primary and elections for a number of local offices as well.

The chaos is a cautionary tale for the rest of the country in the age of Covid-19. We must begin now to plan for safe voting as this presidential election year rolls on. Keeping elections — our sacred democratic rite — safe and secure will require urgent action at every level: members of Congress appropriating funds, governors and state election officials answering the patriotic call to put safeguards in place, and civic groups educating voters about options for safely casting ballots.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Keep reading... Show less
News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.