(Milwaukee) The National Guard deployed to the polling stations, where the voters wear masks: the residents of Wisconsin vote Tuesday, during the coronavirus pandemic, for local elections and the Democratic primary between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who denounced a “scandalous” decision that could turn out to be “fatal”.
Kamil KRZACZYNSKI with Elodie CUZIN in Washington
France Media Agency
After an intense showdown between Democrats and Republicans, polling stations finally opened on Tuesday in this American Midwest state, hit, like all the United States, by COVID – 19.
For the past two weeks, its nearly six million inhabitants have been called to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus, which has already caused more than 11 000 dead in the United States, including 77 in Wisconsin, which counts more than 2400 case.
Voters waited, spaced apart, in long queues in the big city of Milwaukee, where only five polling stations could be opened for near 90 000 inhabitants.
In Kenosha, further south on the shores of Lake Michigan, voters and polling station employees were separated by plexiglass walls, and approximately 90% wore masks. Members of the Wisconsin National Guard regularly disinfected the tables and voting machine. Some 2500 have been deployed across the state.
Due to the lack of election officials, some being sick and others fearful of contagion, more than a hundred municipalities were unable to open a polling station.
At stake: the Democratic primary but also local elections crucial for the balance of power in the state, which explains the fierce political battle around the ballot.
Trump: “Vote today”
After days of fruitless negotiations with Republicans, the majority in the Assembly and the Senate of Wisconsin, Democratic Governor Tony Evers signed a decree Monday to postpone the poll to June 9.
But the Republicans immediately seized the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, which ordered a vote a few hours later on Tuesday.
Supported by Donald Trump, a conservative judge of the Supreme Court is rightly playing for his re-election. The American president therefore repeatedly encouraged voters to re-elect him. “Vote today,” he tweeted.
Candidate for the Democratic nomination to challenge him during the presidential election in November, Bernie Sanders deemed him “scandalous” that the Republicans were pushing to vote Tuesday “for their political benefit”. This decision is “dangerous” and “may well prove to be fatal”.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, 77 years old and ultra-favorite of the Democratic primary, is given winner in this state by polls, but great uncertainty hangs over this ballot.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, no other Democratic primary has been organized since 17 March. Already 15 States as well as the territory of Puerto Rico have announced the postponement of their polls. And the vote will only be by correspondence for the other polls scheduled for April (Alaska on 10, Wyoming on 17).
This virtual suspension of the campaign reinforces the pressure on Bernie Sanders, 78 years, so that he throws the 'sponge.
His delay on Barack Obama's right-hand man in the race for the Democratic nomination is very difficult to catch up with.
The saga of the Wisconsin elections has raised doubts about the crucial presidential, legislative and local elections on November 3, if the pandemic were to last.
In a rare commentary on policy, Michelle Obama advised voters to take care of themselves “and others”, and recalled that ballots sent by mail must be mailed Tuesday.
To curb the risk of contagion, a Wisconsin judge had postponed last week's deadline for voting by mail until 13 April. But the Republicans have also appealed this decision and the United States Supreme Court has ruled, reducing the deadline to Tuesday.
The bulletins can be received by 13 and the results could therefore not be known before this date.
In an editorial, the local newspaper Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asserted that if Wisconsin's Republican parliamentarians “say they are defending democracy, Tuesday's election will be (in fact) the most anti-democratic in the history of the state.”