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Wisconsin’s Bipartisan Election Panel Agrees To Mail 3 Million Absentee Ballots For November

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission agreed to mail absentee ballot applications to nearly 3 million registered voters ahead of November's election, the Associated Press reported.

The decision — which was unanimous by the 6-person, bipartisan commission — is the latest example of a state helping people to vote safely during a pandemic.

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A Restaurant Rebound Is Not On The Menu

When the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the governor's stay-at-home order, several bars and restaurants immediately reopened, and customers came. At some, patrons thronged in, shunning masks and social distancing. On the following Saturday, the resort town of Lake Geneva attracted a horde of tourists eager to eat, drink and mingle with others.

The implication was clear: Americans are tired of isolation and are unafraid of getting sick. If we lift the restrictions that have shut down so many of these places, people will go back to doing what they used to.

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New Voting Rights Battles Erupting In Key Swing States

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

When the 2020 election season resumes in Ohio on April 28 and continues in nearly half of the states through July, Americans will see if new voting regimens instituted in response to the pandemic will help voters or preview state-by-state partisan battles over voter turnout.

Already there are troubling signs that the past decade's voter suppression battles will continue and accelerate in battleground states. Wisconsin's April 7 primary, the month's only presidential contest that was not postponed by the pandemic, is exhibit A. However, as 24 states and territories will hold primaries and caucuses in coming weeks, and other elections this summer, Republicans in some states are already tilting the rules and means of voting to favor their base in the fall.

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How Trump’s Border Wall Grab May Backfire —In Wisconsin

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When President Donald Trump ran on building a massive border wall in 2016, anyone informed about politics could tell his claim that Mexico would pay for it was a shameful, empty promise. And now that Trump is actually trying to build the wall while running for re-election, his grab for wall funds is making him vulnerable to a potentially devastating attack line:

“Mexico isn’t paying for the wall — Wisconsin is.”

That was the gist of a tweet from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler, who wrote Monday:

And it’s substantially true. Trump couldn’t get Congress to agree to pass funding for his wall — even when Republicans had complete control of both chambers — so he has resorted to an executive power grab to get it built. He’s trying to seize $3.8 billion in Pentagon funds and redirect it toward building the wall.

As Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin explained in a statement, the plan includes taking $101 million that was appropriated by Congress to build heavy-wheeled defense vehicles for the military from Wisconsin company Oshkosh Defense. Her office said she helped secure this funding “to support hundreds of jobs in small and medium-sized businesses across the Midwest and is crucial to our national and economic security.” Trump’s budget also reportedly reallocates $650 million from a project to build the America-class Amphibious Navy Ship, which uses an engine that would also be built in Wisconsin. Baldwin said this funding supports “more than 100 jobs” in the state.

“President Trump promised the people of Wisconsin that Mexico would pay for his border wall and now he is making American taxpayers fund it,” Baldwin explained. “Wisconsin manufacturers strengthen our national defense and create jobs, but Trump is taking funding away from our economy and the workers that build it.”

John Nichols, a columnist in the Wisconsin paper Daily Citizen, shared Baldwin’s sentiment.

“When the Trump administration and its cronies tear up budgets that have been approved by Congress in order to find billions for the border wall, they abandon fiscal responsibility,” Nichols said wrote. “They also abandon workers, in communities such as Oshkosh.”

In some ways, this backlash represents exactly what is so frustrating about American politics. Place-based representation and the nature of the Senate and electoral college mean that small-scale projects that might not actually serve the national good can develop powerful constituencies that are politically risky for politicians to abandon. And the U.S. military budget is already bloated beyond belief, in part because it’s been a useful mechanism for influential lawmakers to direct the federal government’s largess toward their own constituents.

But politics plays out in the institutions and structures that we have, not those we’d like to have. So if Trump makes himself vulnerable by coming into conflict with a state like Wisconsin — a key state he won by a slim margin that was central in his 2016 win, and which could be necessary for his re-election — then he can expect that Democrats will exploit that decision. This is especially true if the issue also highlights some of his genuine faults, such as his disregard for the separation of powers and his broken promises.