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It can be hard to fully understand the size and scope of a storm when you are living right in the middle of it. The United States is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic and the storm it has brought is exposing just how fraudulent our democracy truly is. For my entire life, the United States has aimed to police and monitor the world, but now that our proverbial ass is showing, it’s the United States that needs some type of international monitoring or intervention. We are teetering on being a failed state.
While New York City is no doubt the hardest hit city in the world by the coronavirus, Wisconsin is now ground zero for the criminal impact on our democracy. I don’t know if you’ve seen or heard the numbers from yesterday, but what happened should render yesterday’s elections there null and void. And even though the final blame no doubt goes to Republicans, so many people failed there. Let me tell you the numbers. They’re appalling. It could very well be the single most blatant case of voter suppression since Jim Crow.
Yesterday in Milwaukee, 18,803 people voted in person. The city has nearly 600,000 residents. That means less than 3% of the people voted.
Guess how many people voted in 2016? 190,000. That’s a 90% reduction in the Blackest city in the state. Milwaukee normally has nearly 200 different voting locations. Yesterday, as people waited in line in the hail and rain for up to five hours to vote, they had just five voting locations city-wide.
Madison, Wisconsin, which is half the size of Milwaukee, had 66 voting locations yesterday.
This wasn’t a horrible accident. Mayors and public health officials all over the state called for the election to be rescheduled. They called for it to be a vote by mail only election. But in the crucial weeks leading up to the election, the governor of Wisconsin, a Democrat, stalled and stuttered — waiting to the very last minute to try to call it off. Joe Biden, who is leading in the polls to become the Democratic nominee for president, advocated for it to continue up until the day before the election. Weeks ago, the DNC privately threatened to take delegates away from states that delayed their elections. Then, when the governor finally decided to issue an emergency order to halt the elections, his Republican state legislature overturned him. The conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court, right down party lines, agreed with the state legislature that the elections should continue.
And they did. And keeping the election had the exact impact conservatives hoped it would have. Voting in Milwaukee was suppressed so badly that it basically functioned only as a small town yesterday. More people in my neighborhood in Brooklyn vote in elections than voted yesterday in all of Milwaukee. It wasn’t just the presidential primary that will suffer. Conservatives in the state hardly care about that. Wisconsin had essential statewide elections, including Supreme Court seats, on the ballot. With what happened in Milwaukee yesterday, conservatives no doubt got exactly what they wanted.
At this point, we have to ask ourselves, are these elections even legitimate? What happened in Milwaukee damn sure wasn’t. No single sincere person could think so. And yet, the United States, in Bolivia, and elsewhere, have routinely called their elections invalid for far less.