In the United States, many states have postponed their primaries amidst COVID-19 fears. However, on Tuesday, April 7, Wisconsin pushed forward with their primary, which was set to allocate 84 delegates to the winner of the state’s presidential primary.
In the end, the Wisconsin Primary, taking place alongside coronavirus fears, was something of a mess, with the state’s largest newspaper calling the election “the most undemocratic in the state’s history.”
The pandemic, along with a political fight among state officials that played out in public, likely led many voters who would have voted to stay home.
In light of the pandemic, Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor, Tony Evers, had initially told the state’s citizens to stay at home and send absentee ballots by mail. But his calls for absentee ballots to be mailed to all citizens and for the primary to be delayed was denied by the Republican-controlled state legislature.
Likewise, Evers’ order that the election be delayed, made just one day before the primary was held, was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court, which is also controlled by conservatives.
On April 8, the day after the Wisconsin primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders officially dropped out of the presidential race, installing former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee. Sanders announced that he would remain on the ballot to collect delegates in the hope of having a greater influence on the Democratic Party’s platform, announced during the convention.
On April 13, Sanders endorsed Biden on a call broadcast by the former Vice President’s campaign.
“We need you in the White House,” Sanders told Biden. “And I will do all that I can to see that that happens.”
Another major statewide election on the ballot was a key State Supreme Court race. This race was particularly significant because Supreme Court justices in Wisconsin are elected to 10-year terms and conservative judges have held the majority since 2008.
In nonpartisan elections, each candidate for office is eligible based on the individual’s merits rather than political party affiliation.
In something of an upset, Democrat-backed Judge Jill Karofsky, a Dane County Circuit Court judge and former prosecutor, defeated Republican-backed Judge Daniel Kelly, who was appointed by former Republican incumbent governor Scott Walker in 2016.