Thousands of Wisconsin voters waited hours in line to cast ballots and the National Guard staffed overcrowded polling stations on Tuesday, straining the state's ability to hold a presidential primary election under the lash of an escalating pandemic. At the same time, many voters said they did not receive their requested absentee ballots and were unwilling to violate a stay-at-home order to vote in person. "We have moved forward with an election, but we have not moved forward with democracy in the state of Wisconsin," warned Neil Albrecht, executive director of the Milwaukee election commission. The AP reports the state's largest city opened just five of its 180 traditional polling places, forced to downsize after hundreds of poll workers stepped down because of health risks.
As of midday Tuesday, most voting sites in Milwaukee were reporting wait times between one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours, according to Albrecht. Lines stretched several blocks outside buildings as workers tried to maintain social distancing recommendations that everyone stand at least six feet apart. Joe Biden hopes the state will help deliver a knockout blow against Bernie Sanders in the nomination fight. Polls were scheduled to close at 8pm CDT, although results were not expected Tuesday night. A court ruling appeared to prevent results from being made public earlier than next Monday. Sanders said that holding the election was "dangerous" and "may very well prove deadly." He did not encourage his supporters to vote in person. Biden has largely avoided discussion of the Wisconsin contest in recent days, instructing his supporters only to "follow the science." (Read the full story for one voter's "eerie" experience at the polls.)