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Milwaukee voters risk being exposed to coronavirus to cast their ballots

Posted at 12:19 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 13:37:51-04

MILWAUKEE — Thousands of people lined up outside of Milwaukee's five polling locations on Tuesday to cast a ballot in the spring election despite concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Voters picked candidates to support in Wisconsin's Presidential Primary Election and in several local and state general elections.

Most voters wore protective gear, such as masks and gloves, and tried their best to stay 6-feet apart.

Some voters were upset the election was being held during the statewide "Safer at Home" order.

"We are very upset that we are here right now," said Samuel Hogan. "We're going to vote to make sure that situations like these won’t happen again,"

Hogan supported Gov. Tony Evers decision to sign an executive order to postpone the election until June due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

However, the state's supreme court overturned that decision with a 4-2 vote on Monday.

"I would rather wait in this line hand-and-hand, come together as an American, to come exercise this great God given right to vote," said Richard Pakiwski, who supported the court's decision to overturn the governor's decision.

To some, the decision to hold the election Tuesday amid a global health pandemic hit close to home.

"My father-in-law is in the (Intensive Care Unit) right now," said voter James McMahan.

His father-in-law has dangerous COVID-19 symptoms and is awaiting test results to determine if he has the virus.

"I'm voting for him today." said McMahan. "The election should've been postponed, no doubt. No question."

Inside voting locations, election officials are dressed like medical personnel, wearing personal protection equipment (PPE) from head to toe. Voting booths are wiped down and disinfected after each use and spots on the ground help to ensure everyone remains 6-feet apart.

"This is unprecedented," said Brad Hoeschen, an election official at South Division High School. He has been helping in elections for 12 years.

"We are committed to making sure everyone gets to vote regardless of what the politics are," said Hoeschen.

Polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

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