Obama pans Wisconsin ‘debacle,’ backs vote-by-mail efforts amid pandemic

Former President Obama on Friday weighed in to support vote-by-mail efforts during the coronavirus pandemic while criticizing Wisconsin’s decision to hold in-person voting this week.

“No one should be forced to choose between their right to vote and their right to stay healthy like the debacle in Wisconsin this week,” Obama tweeted, sharing a New York Times article. 

The Wisconsin election took place Tuesday amid a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Tony Evers (D), who made a last-minute attempt to postpone the election that was blocked by courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reports and images on social media showed voters waiting in long lines at the few open polling locations. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Friday that it is investigating the potential spread of the coronavirus during the election.

“Everyone should have the right to vote safely, and we have the power to make that happen. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Obama wrote in another tweet.

The pandemic has sparked a partisan battle over efforts to expand voting by mail for the fall elections, with the president staunchly against the move, citing concerns about fraud.

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has led Democrats in pushing to expand mail-in balloting amid the coronavirus crisis, suggesting Republicans are afraid that mail-in voting could lead to a higher turnout that might not favor them.

“We have a different value system about what voting means to a democracy,” Pelosi asserted during a call with reporters Thursday. “Clearly, we want to remove all obstacles to participation.”

Obama has weighed in multiple times amid the pandemic, emphasizing this week that “a robust system of testing and monitoring” will be needed to safely reopen the country and warning mayors against spreading misinformation amid the crisis.

Tags Barack Obama mail-in ballots mail-in voting Nancy Pelosi

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