It was outrageous that Republican legislators and two Supreme Courts forced Wisconsin voters to choose between their health and their right to vote in the 2020 Spring Primary. Wisconsinites and people across our country will never forget what happened to Wisconsin voters, especially those living in neighborhoods ravaged by the pandemic.
Six nonpartisan voter advocacy organizations – the Lewis plaintiffs -came together in March to file the only lawsuit that asked for the April 7 election to be postponed, Lewis v Knutson. Pines Bach proudly represented SEIU Wisconsin State Council in that lawsuit. In the process, we achieved several key things.
First, we fixed the eyes of voters on the importance of voting and participating in our democracy. Wisconsin voters shattered absentee voting records while hundreds of thousands of other heroic citizens braved the pandemic, standing in lines, some for hours, to have their say in the future of their government. As Rev. Lewis stated: “While legislators and justices met remotely, stubbornly refusing to make this election safe and cynically hoping voters might stay home, voters called their bluff. They showed up and voted.”
Second, our lawsuit produced a court order that gave voters six additional days to get their ballots to election authorities. Between April 8 and April 13, absentee ballots continued to arrive at election offices, resulting in the counting of over 79,000 ballots of voters who otherwise would have been disenfranchised. Those 79,000 ballots constituted nearly 7% of all ballots returned, according to a May 15, 2020 Wisconsin Elections Commission report.
We are proud to have stood with Wisconsin voters to ensure their voices were heard.
The six Lewis plaintiffs are: Souls to the Polls, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Voces de la Frontera, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, AFT Local 212, and SEIU Wisconsin State Council.