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Wisconsin GOP Speaker defends state holding election while wearing protective gear

The Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly defended the state's decision to hold its election Tuesday despite concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaker Robin Vos, appearing in full protective gear, including a mask and gloves, said in a video published by The Journal Times in Racine County that he was "glad" the election could go on. He said postponing the election to “push it off to a future date” would have made “no sense.”

“It is no guarantee that in May or June we’re gonna be safer,” he said. “We could be dealing with this in August or November.”

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Voters in the Badger State headed to the polls Tuesday following chaos the previous day after Gov. Tony Evers (D) ordered that the election to be delayed.

That sparked a legal challenge from Wisconsin Republicans, including Vos, with the state Supreme Court blocking Evers's efforts to postpone the election on Monday evening.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday also overruled a lower court’s extension of absentee voting until April 13. Democrats had pushed for the extension to allow voters to avoid in-person contact during the pandemic, while Republicans called on the Supreme Court to block the extension.

Vos on Tuesday assured Wisconsinites from a polling station in Burlington, Wis., that “everybody is here safe” with “very minimal exposure.”

“Actually, there is less exposure here than you would get if you went to the grocery store or if you went to Walmart or did any of the things we have to do to live in the state of Wisconsin,” he said.

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Vos said Evers met with him and other lawmakers last month and that “everyone agreed” to hold the election Tuesday, despite predictions forecasting more cases, hospitalizations and deaths than the state has experienced.

The GOP Speaker also praised the Burlington poll workers for their preparation for the election, saying volunteers received training and personal protective equipment that was mandatory to wear.

For voters who haven’t received their absentee ballots, Vos suggested they request from their clerk an email ballot or visit a polling place, including by participating in curbside voting.

Wisconsin had reported 2,578 cases of the coronavirus and 92 deaths from the virus as of Tuesday afternoon.