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Don’t delay special election

The state of Wisconsin must not delay the May 12 special election to fill the vacant 7th Congressional District seat.

Voters concerned about coming to the polls on election day must be proactive in voting with absentee ballots in the weeks prior to the election. For their part, polling places must show the same level of preparation and caution they did for the April 7 general election. Public safety is always a paramount concern during these times, but democracy must not be sacrificed on the altar of expediency or through an over-abundance of caution. Mail-in ballots and the types of common sense infectious disease precautions used in the recent election show that democracy and security can, and should co-exist.

The 7th Congressional District is a sprawling area including 20 counties covering a total of 18,787 square miles -- an area slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia. The district has about 710,000 residents, which puts it at nearly half-again larger than the population of the state of Wyoming and just under the population of Alaska.

The 7th Congressional District has been voiceless in national debates since early last fall when Rep. Sean Duffy unexpectedly resigned citing family reasons.

For the past six months northern Wisconsin has been voiceless awaiting a special election to fill the position. A lot has happened on the national stage in the past six months, including a presidential impeachment and, most recently, the passage of unprecedented stimulus packages aimed at helping businesses and individuals through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through these momentous times, the region has been forced to be a passive observer, robbed of representation by political gamesmanship and overzealous interpretation of rules ostensibly designed to help people vote, but which have been twisted to delay the voting process and incur additional expense at the local and county level.

With whomever is elected to fill the position having to turn around and run for re-election in November, it is ludicrous to push the election date into the summer, as has been proposed. Delaying the election would do nothing except keep northern Wisconsin sitting silently in the corner as politicians from other parts of the country make decisions that impact lives and livelihoods here.

There are clear differences between the two candidates seeking the position. Both have strengths and weaknesses.

Voters must have the opportunity to make their choice and to regain the region’s voice in national decisions. The May 12 special election must be allowed to go on without outside interference or political gamesmanship.

Absentee ballots may be requested online at or through your municipal clerk’s office.