Washington, DC — Polls are closed in Wisconsin, where Republican state legislators put the health and rights of Wisconsinites on the line by forcing the state to hold in-person voting today through successful challenges in the courts. This move put voters and poll workers at risk of increased exposure to COVID-19, and kept many essential workers — often people of color historically vulnerable to voter suppression — from the ballot box because they were unable to get time off. Planned Parenthood Action Fund condemns the failure to protect voters in today's primary election:
Jenny Lawson, vice president of organizing and engagement campaigns, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“An election where voters must risk their health to cast their ballot is no election at all. What happened in Wisconsin today was voter suppression, plain and simple. State legislators should be ashamed of their blatant attempts to prevent Wisconsinites from exercising their constitutional right to vote, or risk their lives trying. As with most voter suppression efforts, the effects of today’s actions will be felt most by low-income communities and people of color, who overwhelmingly support comprehensive access to reproductive health care and already face structural barriers to the polls. Unless our elected leaders and the courts do everything in their power to keep Americans safe and allow them to make their voices heard in these unprecedented times, Wisconsin could be a sinister harbinger of things to come. We must act now — our democracy depends on it.”
Tanya Atkinson, President, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin:
“The Wisconsin state legislature and supreme court put partisan politics over the health and constitutional rights of Wisconsinites. This pandemic highlights the need to make voting more accessible so that our elections are free and fair. As this public health crisis continues, Wisconsin lawmakers and election officials should be putting plans in place now for future elections to minimize risks to the voting public and ensure no one has to choose between keeping themselves and their family safe and exercising the right to vote. These reforms should focus on making the absentee voting process more accessible for all Wisconsinites. In addition, we must take extra care to ensure that voters who face additional barriers to absentee voting are provided with a meaningful opportunity to vote safely in person.
“Wisconsin has a proud tradition of honoring and promoting civic engagement that is a shared source of pride among the vast majority of our state's citizens. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin is dedicated to doing our part to honor this tradition by ensuring people have the information they need to exercise their right to vote and make informed decisions. It's time for our elected officials to also do right by our Wisconsin tradition and protect our democracy.”
The attack on voting rights and ballot access presents a grave threat to our communities and our democracy. Voter suppression disproportionately targets communities — including communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and young people — who overwhelmingly support comprehensive access to reproductive health care. Attacks on voting rights impact Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide and expand care to medically underserved communities. That’s why as Congress considers its next COVID-19 response bill, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is continuing to fight for increased funding for election reforms, including extended early in-person voting period, no-excuse absentee voting-by-mail for all, and expanded voter registration options.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.