The novel coronavirus hasn’t stopped or delayed democracy in Wisconsin — nor should it.
Voters have a civic duty to elect thousands of local officials in the April 7 election. The terms of incumbents will expire April 21.
Voters need to pick the best leaders to keep local governments running through the COVID-19 health crisis, which has shut down much of society as public officials try to slow the dangerous virus’ spread.
But you don’t have to vote in person, and you shouldn’t if you don’t have to.
Please vote absentee. You can request an absentee ballot at myvote.wi.gov. It’s the safest way to vote during this pandemic, and it only takes a couple minutes.
“It’s so easy that I did it,” Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday.
Members of our editorial board were able to order absentee ballots quickly online. So have more than 550,000 people across the state, and that’s nearly half the 1.2 million ballots cast during last year’s spring election.
You have to be a registered voter to order an absentee ballot at myvote.wi.gov. And if this is your first time voting absentee, you’ll have to upload a picture of a valid photo identification card. Another option is to email your request for an absentee ballot to your municipal clerk. If you don’t have internet access, you can send a request in writing for an absentee ballot through the U.S. Postal Service, which is open.
It’s too late to register to vote by mail for the spring election. But state election officials plan to reopen online registration soon at myvote.wi.gov.
Gov. Evers on Tuesday ordered many businesses deemed nonessential to close. The order is designed to prevent our health care system from overloading with sick people. That’s what happened to Italy. And cases are soaring in New York.
Please stay in your homes, unless you’re getting food, medicine, other essentials or exercising. And stay 6 feet away from others. No handshakes or hugs.
Voting absentee will make polling places much safer April 7. And that assumes in-person voting will even be allowed. Some municipal leaders, such as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, have called for mailing in ballots only. Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday he will listen to those concerns. But that’s not an easy call, because it risks disenfranchising some voters.
If grocery stores can staff people to safely help in-person customers, our government should be able to do the same for democracy.
But don’t count on that. Go to myvote.wi.gov and request an absentee ballot now.