Wisconsin Primary Election: Long Lines as Voters Head to Polls Amid Pandemic

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“I feel like especially right now, when there are so many things that can make you feel hopeless, voting is one of the only things that is still within your power,” Ms. Gleeson, 34, said.

So she requested an absentee ballot a week ago, well within the deadlines set by the state. But she never received one. When she saw that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down an extension of the deadlines, she called the state elections commission asking for her next options.

“They kind of said, yeah, that really sucks, hopefully you’ll have better luck with the next election,” Ms. Gleeson said. She said that some friends in Milwaukee had similar frustrations: one who requested a ballot on March 26 and had not received it, and another who made a request on March 9.

Now, Ms. Gleeson and her husband, who is not showing symptoms but is also isolating himself since Ms. Gleeson is sick, are not able to vote, or at least not able to do so without putting hundreds of people at risk.

“I’ve always said that every vote matters, every vote counts, and it’s your one chance to have your voice heard,” she said. “And it’s now something that I really feel has been taken away from me, and my husband as well.”

Poll workers across the state are terrified, and thousands said they wouldn’t show up.

Forging ahead with the election thrusts thousands of clerks and poll workers, many of them older or with health conditions, onto the pandemic’s front lines.

As a result, thousands of poll workers said they wouldn’t show up, leading to major reductions in the number of polling sites, particularly in cities like Milwaukee. In Green Bay, there are usually about 31 polling locations, but on Tuesday there were just two. Though roughly 2,400 National Guardsmen were being trained as poll workers as late as Monday, it still won’t come close to the more than 7,000 who have already said they cannot work.