Letter to the Editor:

In Wisconsin, Republicans hold a majority in both chambers of our Legislature and thus, control it. 

In an astonishing disregard for public safety, they have chosen to place their partisan political objectives above our health and well-being — in some cases, our very lives.

As of April 6, 2,440 Wisconsinites had tested positive for COVID-19; 77 had died. According to Dr. John Raymond, president of the Medical College of Wisconsin, “The number of cases in Wisconsin is doubling every three days, which is consistent with the situation elsewhere in the United States and Europe.” That means the figure is growing exponentially “unless we do something different.”

Rather than do something different, last Tuesday, Republicans forced Wisconsinites to choose between exercising their constitutional right to vote and protecting themselves, their families, neighbors and poll workers from a pandemic virus. This is an outrage and proof that elections have consequences.

Gov. Tony Evers tried unsuccessfully, due to Republican legislative opposition and court challenges, to postpone our April 7 election so as allow for mail-in voting by absentee ballot. This would be consistent with 15 other states and one territory that have either delayed their elections or switched to mail-in voting with extended deadlines. Wisconsin is the outlier.

The Milwaukee Journal reported, “In a scathing letter to the Republican Party leaders, Wisconsin Elections commissioners sharply rebuked Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos who have repeatedly said they consider in-person voting to be safe despite national and state health officials’ warning to avoid contact with other people.”

They warned “that the safety of those who want to vote in person Tuesday cannot be guaranteed nor can the safety of poll workers. Forcing an in-person election Tuesday not only threatens the voters, the clerks and election staff, it threatens everyone those people subsequently come into contact with at home and elsewhere. A single asymptomatic virus-carrying poll worker could transmit the virus to hundreds of people election day, creating a disease vector that would devastate a community.”

The question is “Why?” Why would our Republican legislators place us at risk rather than delay an election? What does that tell us about their judgment and commitment to public service to serve us, “We the people?”

Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Rob Swearingen have stated their support for in-person voting. Tiffany is running for U.S. Congress. His name will appear on the May 12 special election ballot. Given the virus, make an early request for an absentee ballot.

Swearingen’s term expires in 2021.

Elections matter. Let’s elect people who represent us, not themselves.

Rick Plonsky