Press release

United States: Wisconsin Primary Underscores Need for Urgent Action to Protect National Elections in November

Court rulings required Wisconsin to go forward with in-person voting in the state’s primary election on April 7, despite public health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the disjointed Wisconsin primary election, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The emerging debacle surrounding the Wisconsin primary demonstrates the crucial need to take strong measures to protect elections during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “From our research on elections in countries around the world, we know that flawed responses to the health crisis have the potential to undermine the confidence of constituents in their governments.

We should not push forward with unsafe elections when there are alternatives, especially because doing so is likely to disenfranchise large parts of the electorate. This is a time for political parties everywhere to work together and compromise. It is more important that we assure voters of the validity of our elections, than win an immediate partisan victory.

Steps that should be taken to protect elections include mailing a ballot to every registered voter, ensuring ample time for early voting, and creating online voter registration systems in every state. These kinds of changes require a tremendous amount of time to put in place, so we should begin without delay,” said Abramowitz.

Background:

Court rulings required Wisconsin to go forward with in-person voting in the state’s primary election on April 7, effectively requiring voters and election workers to choose between exercising their civic duties, and safeguarding their health during the COVID-19 pandemic by remaining at home.

The United States is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2020 and Free in Freedom on the Net 2019.