The United States Supreme Court, led by Justice Brett Kanvanaugh and the conservative majority, blocked extended voting in Wisconsin on Monday in a last-minute ruling ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
According to The Hill, “In a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the conservative justices sided with Republican state lawmakers by halting a lower court order to extend absentee voting to April 13, a measure that would have expanded options for avoiding in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
Kavanaugh wrote for the majority, “Extending the date by which ballots may be cast by voters — not just received by the municipal clerks but cast by voters — for an additional six days after the scheduled election day fundamentally alters the nature of the election.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the minority, blasted the court’s conservatives for not working to protect access to voting in the middle of a global pandemic.
“The district court, acting in view of the dramatically evolving COVID–19 pandemic, entered a preliminary injunction to safeguard the availability of absentee voting in Wisconsin’s spring election,” she wrote, according to The Hill. “This court now intervenes at the eleventh hour to prevent voters who have timely requested absentee ballots from casting their votes.”
Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ initial move to delay the election was meant to both save lives and guarantee that voters in his state would still be able to exercise their right to vote.
Republican judges, unfazed by the risk of a global pandemic and sickened by the idea of more Americans casting ballots, quickly blocked the governor both at the state and, now, federal level.
As Mark Joseph Stern of Slate pointed out after SCOTUS handed down its ruling, “The conservative majority just effectively threw out thousands of ballots. Incredible.”
When more Americans vote, Republicans lose
While the Supreme Court’s decision will only impact Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin, it underscores the larger, more troubling issue that Republicans are constantly and brazenly making it harder for folks to exercise their right to vote.
Donald Trump himself admitted recently that if all Americans had quick and easy access to voting, Republicans would never win another election.
In a typical election, GOP voter suppression efforts are troubling. There is no question that it has helped them win hotly contested races. But with the U.S. in in the midst of a deadly global pandemic that could drag on for months, the Republican effort to make it harder to vote is even more alarming.
As former Obama official Jon Favreau tweeted earlier, “The nightmare isn’t that Trump will cancel November’s election (he can’t). The nightmare is that he tells his supporters it’s safe to go to the polls in the midst of a pandemic, and those of us with a firm grasp on reality who know it’s not safe aren’t allowed to vote by mail.”
Democrats must fight every minute between now and Election Day to guarantee that all Americans will have access to a ballot in November, regardless of whether they can physically be in a polling place.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.