April 7, 2020: Wisconsin goes to the polls during a pandemic — despite health experts’ calls to stay home

Scenes from around Wisconsin on the state’s chaotic Election Day


Wisconsin forged ahead with in-person voting Tuesday, after the conservative state Supreme Court on Monday overturned Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ order delaying the election. Following the advice of experts and the lead of other states, Evers had argued it was too dangerous for voters to venture out. 

The move to forge ahead has prompted residents who had not already voted by mail to make tough choices: risk their health, or give up their right to vote. Poll workers, meanwhile, described their extraordinary attempts to keep workers and voters safe, but some question whether those will be enough. 

Here are scenes and dispatches from Tuesday’s historic Election Day.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

From Wisconsin Watch staff in the field:

Coburn Dukehart, digital and multimedia director, captured these scenes at polling locations in Door County, Wis.:

From associate director Lauren Fuhrmann:

Lauren Fuhrmann / Wisconsin Watch

Voters lined up outside of the polling location at Marshall High School in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020.

Lauren Fuhrmann / Wisconsin Watch

A line of cars waiting in the curbside voting line for disabled voters outside of the polling location at Marshall High School in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020.

From Bram Sable-Smith, WPR Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow:

Bram Sable-Smith / Wisconsin Watch

Two people walk into Lapham Elementary School in Madison, Wis. on April 7, 2020. Lapham remained open as a polling place for the election.

Outside the polls:

Lauren Fuhrmann / Wisconsin Watch

The line to vote at Washington High School in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020 was over three blocks long, filling the sidewalks surrounding the school’s property.

Lauren Fuhrmann / Wisconsin Watch

Poll workers directing a long line of voters at Washington High School in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020. Photo by Wisconsin Watch

Corrinne Hess / WPR

Caroline Hildebrand, left, talks to a poll worker with the National Guard outside of Riverside High School in Milwaukee, Wis. on April 7, 2020. Hildebrand has asthma and requested an absentee ballot, but she didn’t receive it in time and braved the polling place in spite of being high-risk of developing serious symptoms from COVID-19.

Ruthie Hauge / The Cap Times

Dr. Elizabeth Perry stages a family caravan to express disappointment in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in the parking lot of the Madison East High School polling place on April 7, 2020.

Shawn Johnson/WPR

A poll worker in Madison works the polls amid the COVID-19 pandemic on April 7, 2020.

Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal

Poll worker Karen Lee Weidig helps facilitate drive-up voting Tuesday in front of the City-County Building in Madison. City officials have set up parking spaces in front of the building to help people with absentee voting.

Phoebe Petrovic/Wisconsin Watch

An absentee ballot drop off station outside of a Madison Public Library on Tuesday, April 7.

Once you’re inside:

Jay Burseth / Wisconsin Watch

A poll worker accepts a ballot from a voter in the hallway of South Division High School in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020.

Myles Dannhausen Jr./Door County Pulse

A polling location in Sister Bay, Wisconsin on the morning of Tuesday, April 7.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who opposed Evers’ executive order to delay the election, reported to work at a polling place in his district Tuesday morning.

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