Vote And Die! Democracy According To The US Supreme Court And Wisconsin Supreme Court
Soooooo Wisconsin is going to have an election today. A lot of people are going to be put in actual, physical danger because of Republican bullshit. A lot of people aren't going to be able to vote because of Republican bullshit. And a lot of people are going to continue to be fucked over by Republican bullshit for years to come.
We let you know yesterday about all kinds of craziness going on with today's election in the badger state. And suffice it to say a LOT has happened since then. None of it good.
Voters, civil rights groups, and the Wisconsin and the Democratic Party went to court to fight for voting rights — and lost. The Republican Party went to court to fight against voting rights — and won.
So yeah, it's all bad.
Wisconsin Republicans have spent the last few weeks trying to use a global pandemic as an excuse to disenfranchise voters in their state. And yesterday, the highest courts in the country and the state of Wisconsin gave them everything they wanted, tied up with a bow.
For the last few weeks, Wisconsin voters and the Democratic Party have been in court, fighting for expanded voting rights during the pandemic.
Democratic Governor Tony Evers called the Republican-controlled legislature into session to ask them to move the state's primary and automatically mail absentee ballots to every registered voter in the state. The legislature said "nah" and ended the session after just 17 seconds.
Meanwhile, in a case aptly styled RNC v. DNC, the five conservative members of the US Supreme Court stepped in to do their part to fuck with democracy and ensure that tens of thousands of votes won't be counted.
Why all the fuckery over a primary whose result already appears to be a foregone conclusion? There's also an important seat on the state supreme court at play.
It's all fucked
Wisconsin's election today is more than just a presidential primary. There are more than 3,800 seats on the ballot, including a seat on the state's highest court currently held by conservative Justice Daniel Kelly.
Like a lot of other states around the country, Wisconsin has struggled to deal with holding elections in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — highlighted by the state legislature's refusal to ... well, to do anything. Thousands of poll workers have dropped out and cities have been forced to close dozens of polling places. Milwaukee, which normally has 182 polling locations, will have just five. Green Bay, which normally has 31 polling locations, is down to two.
Understandably, the pandemic has resulted in a lot of requests for absentee ballots. Typically, the state receives about 250,000 absentee ballot requests for a spring election. This year, it's gotten around 1.2 million.
Unfortunately, election officials in Wisconsin have been unable to process all of the requests in a timely manner. Because of this, tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters won't receive their ballots until after Election Day.
Last week, a federal court ordered the state to extend the deadline for accepting absentee ballots and count votes mailed after Election Day, as long as they were returned by April 13. As of Sunday, tens of thousands of ballots had yet to be mailed out.
Then last night, hours before Wisconsin's election was to be held, the Roberts Court decided to jump in — because there's nothing Republicans love more than disenfranchising voters!
In a short, unsigned order, SCOTUS jumped in to do its favorite thing and give Republicans a win, democracy be damned. It doesn't matter to the Court whether Wisconsin voters received their absentee ballots by election day — they can just wait in line during a deadly pandemic instead!
But this is nothing new for the Wisconsin GOP, which really loves it some undemocratic bullshit.
If Wisconsin elections were actually democratic to begin with, this likely wouldn't be an issue. Wisconsin Republicans gerrymandered their legislature to the point where, in 2018, Democrats won 54% of the votes for the State Assembly, but won just 36% of the seats.
Meanwhile, in Madison, Governor Evers issued an executive order as a last-ditch effort to postpone today's election until June 9. But the legislature sued and got an order yesterday evening from the Wisconsin Supreme Court, mandating the election go forward.
Although today we're talking about Wisconsin, these are issues we're going to be hearing more and more about in coming days, weeks, and months. As noted by the New York Times,
"Wisconsin is just a microcosm. And it presents questions that the nation will soon have to grapple with," said former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who now leads an organization focused on gerrymandering and voting equality. "It's a test of our democracy. And the question is, 'Are we up to passing that test?'"
Can we just always just listen to RBG?
RBG, joined by the other three liberal justices on the Supreme Court, thoroughly schooled the majority, writing that the Court's decision "will result in massive disenfranchisement."
A voter cannot deliver for postmarking a ballot she has not received. Yet tens of thousands of voters who timely requested ballots are unlikely to receive them by April 7, the Court's postmark deadline.
So, that's, umm, a problem.
We are in the midst of a deadly global pandemic. We are also in the midst of an important election year. And so far, we are not doing a very good job of dealing with those two facts.
As RBG warns,
The question here is whether tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens can vote safely in the midst of a pandemic. Under the District Court's order, they would be able to do so. Even if they receive their absentee ballot in the days immediately following election day, they could return it. With the majority's stay in place, that will not be possible. Either they will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others' safety. Or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own. That is a matter of utmost importance—to the constitutional rights of Wisconsin's citizens, the integrity of the State's election process, and in this most extraordinary time, the health of the Nation.
Wisconsin is having an election today. It's going to be a shitshow.
Also, Republicans and the Roberts Court hate democracy.
Have a great day!
Here's the Supreme Court's order. I recommend skipping straight to RBG's dissent.