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Journal Times editorial: State should plan now for a possible fall election by mail
Our Perspective

Journal Times editorial: State should plan now for a possible fall election by mail

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The handmade sign, held by a Milwaukeean waiting in a long line to vote and wearing a mask, said it all: “This is ridiculous.”

No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote. But officials have identified seven people who appear to have contracted COVID-19 through activities related to the April 7 election, Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said April 20.

The hastiness of the election alterations due to the pandemic was evident in Milwaukee and elsewhere. As were the errors that created problems

We hope that everyone who wants to vote in person on Nov. 3 can do so safely.

But we expect that state and local officials will have plans in place to enable everyone to vote by mail, should that become necessary.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced his executive order for all New York State voters to be automatically mailed a postage-paid application to receive a ballot for that state’s June 23 primary. That follows an earlier Cuomo executive order enabling all New York voters to vote absentee.

While Cuomo is a Democrat, this isn’t a partisan issue. At least it shouldn’t be seen as such.

President Donald Trump said that mail-in voting in the April 7 election was bad for Republicans and “a very dangerous thing for this country,” but a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report found that the top two Wisconsin counties in terms of percentage of voters returning absentee ballots were Waukesha and Washington, two Republican strongholds. The same report found that absentee voting was popular in Democrat-leaning municipalities such as Wauwatosa and Middleton, and popular in Republican-leaning Pleasant Prairie and Oconomowoc.

“We think (absentee mail voting) is a good thing,” Wisconsin Republican Party chair Andrew Hitt told the Journal Sentinel.

People of all political stripes opt to vote by mail.

It bears repeating that no one should have to choose between their health and the exercise of their right to vote. It also bears repeating that everyone who wants to vote in person should be able to do so.

But if there should be a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall — as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have predicted — we’re confident that everyone will want to vote by mail.

So let’s make sure there’s a plan in place for that.


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