Elections during the outbreak may require absentee voting

Chris Bird, News Editor

With the COVID-19 situation becoming serious, many are practicing social distancing in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Large events are being cancelled, and in Wisconsin we have even had Gov. Tony Evers issue a “safer at home” order closing businesses and requiring people to limit themselves to essential travel.

This whole situation comes at an important time.

Election season.

We are in the midst of the primary elections for both political parties, as well as countless other elections for congress, state level positions, and local positions across the nation.

Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Kentucky and Ohio have already made the decision to delay their elections as a result of the virus. Puerto Rico has also requested to do the same.

If we are to follow the order from Gov. Evers, then logically we may be facing some changing procedures as elections approach. There has been no word yet about any plans to delay elections in Wisconsin, but maintaining social distancing might make voting hard for most.

One thing that anyone who would still like to vote could do to avoid coming in to contact with crowds, is vote early. Anyone can still receive an absentee ballot by request in Wisconsin until April 2.

Brianna Stapleton Welch, Student Program Advisor at Madison College, reminds us that “this is a great way to still be civically engaged and cast your vote while maintaining social distancing. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is recommending that people request absentee ballots sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until the deadline.”

Before this situation became more serious, Madison College had early voting and voter registration events planned, but these have had to be cancelled.

Ellie Rome, Student Program Advisor at Madison College, wrote “unfortunately the Early Voting has been cancelled at Madison College due to the extended spring break and facilities closures.”

Rome went on to explain that early voting is still planned to be happening in Madison, and there is a constantly updating list of early voting sites at http://www.cityofmadison.com/clerk/elections-voting/voting/vote-absentee/in-person-absentee-voting-hours-and-locations.

Both Rome and Stapleton Welch recommended that anyone with further questions or concerns regarding elections, absentee ballots, registration, etc. in Wisconsin turn to the toll-free voter helpline run by the Wisconsin Election Commission at 1-866-868-3947.

Anyone who is already registered to vote can request an absentee ballot at myvote.wi.gov, and anyone looking for more info on absentee voting can find it at https://elections.wi.gov/sites/elections.wi.gov/files/2019-01/29-32%20Absentee%20Voting%202019.pdf.