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The crucial election in Wisconsin was not Biden vs. Sanders, but the decisive seat on the state Supreme Court.
Governor Tony Evers wanted to postpone the election. The Republicans fought him and got his cancelation of the election overturned by the courts.
Republicans blocked mail-in voting because they thought that fears of the virus would suppress turnout and help their candidate. Milwaukee usually has 180 polling places but last Tuesday, only 5 opened.
But the GOP ‘s efforts to protect the conservative judge failed. He lost.
A liberal challenger defeated the conservative incumbent for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a key race at the heart of Democratic accusations that Republicans risked voters’ health and safety by going forward with last week’s elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. Jill Karofsky beat Daniel Kelly, whom then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) appointed to the state’s high court in 2016.
The contest prompted a rancorous partisan debate over whether to proceed with in-person voting last Tuesday, which Democrats opposed and Republicans supported. It was also hardfought because of potential implications in the November presidential elections, with a judicial decision about whether to purge the state’s voter rolls hanging in the partisan balance of the court.
Gov. Tony Evers (D), state health officials and local election officials had urged the Republican-led state legislature to postpone the election, but lawmakers refused, citing the risk of confusion and widespread vacancies in thousands of municipal seats on the ballot with terms due to expire in April. Democrats accused Republicans of trying to take advantage of the likely low turnout resulting from fear of infection and closed polling locations.
The election featured snaking lines in Milwaukee and Green Bay, the result of mass cancellations by poll workers and the closure of polling locations. In Milwaukee, election officials opened just five voting locations, instead of the typical 180. “Tonight, not just Jill Zarofsky but democracy prevailed over a politically cynical strategy to weaponize the coronavirus pandemic as a tool of voter supression,” said Ben Wikler, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Kelly conceded the race shortly after 8:30 p.m. “It has been the highest honor of my career to serve the people of WI on their Supreme Court these past four years,” Kelly said in a statement. “Obviously I had hoped my service would continue for another decade, but tonight’s results make clear that God has a different plan for my future….”
Scott L. Fitzgerald, the Republican majority leader in the Wisconsin Senate, told reporters last year that Kelly would have a “better chance” of winning a new term with lower turnout — a statement that fueled accusations from Democrats as to why Republicans wanted to go forward with last Tuesday’s elections.
But heavy mail-in balloting may have upended assumptions about relative advantage; according to statistics issued Monday by the State Elections Commission, nearly 1.1 million Wisconsites cast ballots that way, nearly as many as total turnout in last year’s Supreme Court race — and more than total turnout in the court races in each of the previous two years…
Republicans entered the election with a 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court, meaning that a Democratic victory would still leave liberals in the minority until 2023, the next time a conservative justice will face voters. But an ongoing legal battle over a voter roll purge raised the stakes of this year’s election, with implications for November. Kelly recused himself, and conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn sided with voting-rights groups to halt the purge. That left the court deadlocked 3-3, and gave Democrats a shot at stopping the purge, one of their top priorities ahead of the 2020 election.