Politics, World, Americas, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

US state heads to polls despite COVID-19 outbreak

US president urges voters to vote 'now' amid fears voting could contribute to spread of virus

Michael Hernandez   | 07.04.2020
US state heads to polls despite COVID-19 outbreak

WASHINGTON

Voters in Wisconsin are turning out to polling stations across the state Tuesday despite being in the midst of a deadly pandemic. 

Images from the state published by various news outlets show voters in packed lines waiting to cast ballots, many donning masks or other informal face coverings, but several appearing to fail to adhere to health guidance to remain six feet from each other. Few were seen wearing gloves.

Several workers sat behind protective screens as they distributed ballots, or handed ballots to voters as they remained in their car at one drive-by polling station.

President Donald Trump urged state residents to vote "NOW," even as he continues to ask U.S. residents to adhere to his strict social distancing guidelines.

Wisconsin is the only state holding in-person voting in April. All of the other states with primaries for the month have moved to delay or hold alternative voting.

Governor Tony Evers moved Monday to postpone the elections, issuing an executive order to delay the vote until June 9 unless he and the state legislature could agree on another date for in-person voting to begin.

But his action was overturned by the state's top court that ruled Evers lacks the authority to do so, and mandated the state must go ahead with its election in the face of an outbreak that has already claimed 11,830 lives in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. Supreme Court further ruled that all absentee ballots must be postmarked by election day, but more than 40% of the state's 110,000 residents who requested absentee ballots had yet to return them. Moreover, some 11,000 requested ballots had yet to be mailed out, the Wisconsin Election Commission said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel local newspaper.

The U.S. has the most coronavirus cases of any country worldwide, with confirmed infections at 378,289, according to the university.

Wisconsin has 2,511 confirmed infections, with more than half, 1,304, recorded in Milwaukee, the state's largest city where 45 of the state's 85 deaths have occurred.

Polls will close at 9 p.m. Eastern Time (0100 GMT). Results are not expected until April 13.

The coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. It has since spread to 184 countries and regions, claiming nearly 80,000 lives.

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