Bernie Sanders is calling for a delay on Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, the only primary that is currently scheduled to take place in unaltered form in the next month as the nation weathers an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. “People should not be forced to put their lives on the line to vote,” his campaign said in a statement.
Wisconsin residents are currently following the same shelter-in-place ordinance that many other states are experiencing. The state’s governor, Democrat Tony Evers, has also banned all public and private gatherings. Federal guidelines recommend social distancing and limited interaction as well. Despite that, the state is still barreling ahead with a primary scheduled for April 7th. The timing has led to a shortage of poll workers and overwhelming requests for mail-in ballots.
The state’s decision to continue with Tuesday’s election stands in contrast with every other state that was scheduled to vote this month. 15 other states scheduled to vote in March and April, including New York and Ohio, have pushed back their primaries and dramatically expanded mail-in voting options. Activists in Wisconsin are currently suing the state to force a delay.
Cynics may point out that Sanders has ample reason to hope for this; he currently trails Biden in delegate numbers and is considered an underdog in Wisconsin. Yet Sanders has demonstrated a consistent stance on delaying votes to prioritize voter safety. His campaign suspended GOTV efforts in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois, which voted on March 17th and expressed dismay about the states’ decision to proceed with their primaries. Biden aides accused the campaign of attempting to suppress votes and encouraged voters to go out to the polls “if they feel healthy.” At least three poll officials in Florida have since tested positive for coronavirus. Biden has yet to comment on next Tuesday’s election.