Baltimore, MD (April 4, 2020) — The NAACP issued the following statement regarding Governor Tony Evers signing of Executive Order #73, calling the Legislature to meet and to take up changes to the upcoming spring election.
The NAACP is in support of the proposed legislation that would reschedule the Wisconsin primary election date, and extend the extension of ballots to every registered voter who has not already requested one by May 19. Full voter participation is essential to ensuring elected leaders and policy decisions meet the needs of the community. Significant percentages of eligible voters are not registered, many registered voters do not consistently show up at the polls, and large numbers of would-be voters — particularly people of color — are deterred by state laws and procedures designed to suppress the vote.
"An inclusive, representative and engaged voting process are what we should be striving for, from the highest echelons of government down to the municipalities across the country," said Min. Wendell J. Harris, Sr, president, NAACP Wisconsin State Conference. "As life continues to shift as we know it, we must make certain we are adjusting our electoral procedures accordingly so that all persons have an opportunity to exercise their voting rights."
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, state and local election administrators are faced with the added burden of balancing the health and safety of voters and their families with ensuring having a fair and inclusive election process. This is a challenge a robust democracy must meet. "These proposed measures are a necessary step in the evolving Wisconsin election given our new reality," said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. "As an organization that is dedicated to fighting for voter access and expanded opportunities for voters of color, we cannot afford to allow a single voter to be stifled, by procedural indecision and oversight."
Given that mail-in voting may be the only option for people who need assistance, who are immune-compromised, or who are simply adhering to social distancing mandates, states must allow voters who cannot vote in person to obtain assistance in completing and submitting ballots in order to exercise fulfill their constitutional right. Extending voter registration deadlines given the considering likely curtailment of government services during this difficult time would only serve to reinforce the significance of everyone participating in the upcoming election.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP's work and our "Game Changer" issue areas here.