Coronavirus causing spring election concerns

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- State Election officials are working to avoid problems at the polls amid the growing impact of the coronavirus.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission held an emergency teleconference Wednesday to discuss several concerns. A shortage of absentee ballot envelopes, possible disruption in mail services, and how to safely conduct the spring election during rapidly developing covid-19 concerns are all topics of discussion among the commission right now. The meeting also brought attention to the need from local counties to have proper sanitation products on Election Day.

One of the most critical concerns right now is how to protect elderly voters at the polls from the virus. With more than 50 percent of Wisconsin poll workers being over the age of 60, election officials are encouraging counties to develop back-up plans in case poll workers opt out or become sick. The commission is encouraging people who are out of school and work to sign up to help. Officials plan to focus on high school and college students, teachers, and government employees for help.

Some commissioners worry that if the April 7th election is not postpones, many of these issues could cause a disruption. Governor Tony Evers has said he doesn’t want to delay the election citing the importance of it for filling importance vacancies. Evers has been urging voters to register absentee and many have which is what has led to a shortage of absentee envelops.

Aside from talk of postponing the election, some have suggested extending registration deadlines but election officials says they don’t have the authority to do that and the order would need to come from a court or the governor.

The commission says it’s quickly working on a plan to address many of these issues but with coronavirus concerns developing daily, it might be too early to decide on new election procedures.