Color Of Change PAC: With COVID-19 and SCOTUS, Black Voters in Wisconsin Face a Literal Life or Death Choice
The following statement can be attributed to Rashad Robinson, spokesperson for Color of Change PAC, in response to today’s badly managed election in Wisconsin.
“The cynical and callous refusal of Republican lawmakers and conservative judges to allow for delay of Wisconsin’s election represents a coldly calculated decision to prioritize their political interests over the health, safety, and civil rights of Black voters and all Wisconsinites. It is an ugly preview of how they could use this pandemic to achieve their long-held goals of voter suppression at a scale not seen in a generation. It is Black voters who will, more than others, face the impossible choice of whether to exercise their right to vote or stay home to protect their health–and that is no accident.
“We cannot allow this pandemic to erode our democratic principles and the right to vote safely. Yet, what we see happening in Wisconsin is exactly that. And we know the pain will not be equally felt. Black voters are most at risk of being disenfranchised in today’s primary elections in Wisconsin.
“Republican legislators blocked all attempts to delay the election or expand access to vote-by-mail. Last night the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the governor’s last attempt to protect voters via executive order in a partisan 5-4 vote. And in response to the coronavirus pandemic, local election officials have decreased the number of polling places in Milwaukee from 180 to just five, which today will force voters into absurdly long, dangerously crowded lines to participate in today’s primary. Milwaukee is home to almost 70 percent of the state’s Black population.
“The long lines and confusion over the state of the election alone might be enough to deter voters from participating in this primary, compounded by the fear of falling ill to the virus. For Black people in Milwaukee, the fear is significant. The Black community in Milwaukee is facing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic – accounting for over half of coronavirus cases and 81% of related deaths.
“It is almost impossible for this election to proceed in these conditions without massive disenfranchisement. Suppressing, limiting, and outright denying the vote to Black citizens is a dark American tradition, but this is sadly one of the most egregious examples we’ve seen so far this century.
“We cannot allow future elections to be destroyed this way. States with upcoming primary elections should move quickly to increase access to vote-by-mail and early voting on an emergency basis for this election and in a permanent, ongoing way for future elections. Any restrictions on travel or public gatherings must include provisions or exceptions that will ensure that voters, particularly oft-targeted Black voters, voters reliant on public transit, and other marginalized voters, are not disenfranchised.”
Color Of Change PAC is a Political Action Committee focused on building independent Black political power, amplifying Black voices, electing candidates who share our values, and holding them accountable to our communities. For more information on Color Of Change PAC, visit votingwhileblack.com.