Wisconsin, Legislature, Mary Beth discussed on What Next | Daily News and Analysis
It's Tuesday April seventh twenty twenty. And if you live in Wisconsin at least at the time we recorded this today. It's election day despite the global pandemic. That's keeping most of us at home right. It said like trying to do the impassable. It's like living a nightmare. Keep asking myself. Am I still alive or possibly be true? Could it Mary Beth whistle bail? She's one of the people trying to carry out this election. She's the city clerk in Madison. I know that you told someone that you're working like a hundred hours a week right now. Yeah how do you even work a hundred hours a week? You become very very grumpy. Mary Beth has been pulling these hours because of what started happening as the election got closer and people are town realized there are going to have to find a way to vote. It's because we were receiving so many absent. He request that it was beyond any of our capacity to process right away by law. Were supposed to have the absence. She in the mail within forty eight hours of receiving the request. So it's like A. It's like a race like you'd get a request and you got two days to get that sucker in the mail. But a couple of Fridays ago our backlog was sixteen thousand emails to process for absentee requests. So Mary Beth had her husband help out at the office. She got her teenage daughter involved. She even trained some out of work librarians to process mail in voter requests. She still couldn't meet the demand by the time. I spoke to Mary Beth on Sunday. Her focus had shifted to getting pulled locations ready. At least the ones she can keep open. She had to shut down about a third of them like the ones in nursing homes because of Kovic nineteen. She was arranging all these work. Arounds like curbside voting an elaborate system involving poll workers and face shields sliding ballots through cracked open car windows then for voters who are entering the polling place. We're asking them to stay succeed apart. We're keeping our poll workers sixteen apart but how many poll workers are going to show up at is the question. Wisconsin's primary election didn't have to be like this. The governor tried to delay it. He proposed mailing ballots to every registered voter so they could vote from home. The legislature rejected these ideas. And that's how Mary Beth got to this point working till two in the morning pressing absentee ballot requests and trying to find plastic face shields for her poll workers. Now she's just hoping those workers actually show up this morning today on the show. We're going to tell the story of how Election Day in Wisconsin got to be such a mess. It's a story about what happens when a pandemic collides with partisan politics. I'm Mary Harris. You're listening to next stick with US after talking to Mary Beth. I wanted to understand why she was still preparing vern election at all so I called up. Slates Marc Joseph Stern. He's been following the pushing pullover Wisconsin's primary when we spoke on Monday afternoon. Things seemed settled. Sort of the election was going forward but there was a dispute about how many people would be able to file absentee ballots. And what would happen if some of those ballots arrived after election day? So let's explain how we got here in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a democratic governor. But it is definitely swing state with a lot of partisan battles. So how did we get to the point where Wisconsin was even like having this election in the first place because just last month? We're talking about Ohio where I the last minute they were calling the whole thing off so I don't WanNa sound conspiratorial here but I really feel like any realistic conversation about Wisconsin and how it ended up where it is today has to begin with the coke brothers and with and I know I know. Please don't hate me. But what you have to understand is that in the arts the cokes and their allies in their strategist got together and basically decided to pick a state that would serve as the laboratory for all of their ideas and that state was Wisconsin and they needed a governor who would essentially be a puppet for all of their policies. And just do whatever the hell they sat in that puppet with Scott Walker and they needed a legislature that had a sufficiently large Republican majority that Nothing that Walker and the cokes ever proposed would get tanked and they did that by a ruthlessly gerrymandering the state after the two thousand ten census and creating this impenetrable. Gop Wall The the Democrats have not been able to cross over so even when Tony. Eva's won the The governorship in two thousand eighteen. He's a Democrat and he's a democrat. Republicans held fast to the state legislature. Right and their their numbers here were it's like X. percentage of the population voted for Democrats but the legislature. When you look at it looks a little different than not. Yeah so in. Twenty Ten Republicans. Gerrymander the hell out of the state legislature right and they basically pack the blue cities like Madison and Milwaukee. The pact voters into a few districts there and then they spread the rest around the state. So they've got this huge Gerrymander and in two thousand twelve it pays off because in two thousand twelve. Republicans only win forty eight point six percent of the statewide vote in Wisconsin so they don't even win a majority but then that vote translates into sixty out of ninety nine seats and the Wisconsin state assembly. So you've got Republicans winning less than a majority of the vote and capturing a near Super Majority of the state assembly so let's fast forward to now you've got this Democratic Governor Tony Devers. He wants to protect his citizens but at the same time knows that he has to deal with this Republican legislature. Right right and this is where the coke stuff kind of comes back in again not to sound like a conspiracy theorist but after Scott Walker lost his reelection race in two thousand eighteen to Tony Everts the legislature which remained Republican decided that it didn't really think that a democratic governor had a legitimate right to rule and began stripping powers from governor before he took office. I think the way that you put this on the show earlier was Wisconsin is governed by the dead hand of Scott Walker. Yes yes that is exactly correct. Because Republicans basically gave themselves all of the important powers of the governor ship or at least many of the important powers imposing Scott Walker's policies even though Scott Walker himself has no more power and just tweet. Sad pictures of his ham. Sandwich is so in March. Tony vers knows that. He has an election coming up on April seventh. He also knows that. The Corona virus is becoming a major problem and states. All around the country are basically shutting down. So what does he do so either as does not have power to postpone the election that is not a power he has retained and so the Republican legislature is the one holding the cards here and everts decides to try to play? Nice with the Republican legislature. He is a team player. He's a pretty pretty sweet guy and so he sort of goes hand in hand to the legislature and he says look. Why don't we make this an all male election day mostly male election where we pass them? Quick Legislation An implements quick rules. That make sure everyone can easily vote. Absentee people don't have to go to the polls and they won't risk getting the corona virus in order to cast their ballot so we asked the legislature to allow the election to really be all male and like he wanted he wanted ballot sent out to every voter with you know addressed envelopes with stamps on them. So everyone could participate but participate remotely. How did the legislature respond the legislature said in in two words? Hell No. We don't like vote by mail elections. What was their justification? So in the past some Wisconsin officials have been pretty overt about the fact that expanded access to the ballot is bad for Republicans right. You have these occasional stray quips by Republican legislators and operatives in Wisconsin where they say basically we need to suppress votes to make sure we can win but what you have them saying in court. Filings is essentially. This is no big deal. This is a pandemic. But we already had absentee voting. We already had mail in voting mail in balloting. And we don't need to change anything like we can just keep all the rules. The exact same and people can just switch to mail in voting. They want and everything will be totally fine and you could switch to mail in voting pretty late in the process right. Like if I'm Wisconsin voter I could ask for a mail in ballot like last week. I think. Yeah that's right. And if the state had the infrastructure and personnel to prepare for for that possibility then in theory all of this could have been worked out a few weeks ago and I think the state could've run a decently smooth. All male are mostly male election. What happened.