Wisconsin holding special election, but safety concerns persist

The election will determine the next representative from the seat representing Northwestern Wisconsin.
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Voters in Northwestern Wisconsin will take to the polls Tuesday to decide on a Congressional special election, a little more than a month after the state held its presidential primary despite COVID-19 concerns.

The election will determine the next U.S. representative from Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District. Democratic candidate Tricia Zunker will face off against Republican candidate Tom Tiffany. Republican incumbent Sean Duffy left the seat in September for family reasons.

Last month, Wisconsin held its presidential primary despite an order by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to delay the election until June. Evers’s order was challenged by a Republican-controlled Legislature and overturned by the state’s Supreme Court.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Evers considered pushing back the special election as well, although the date ultimately did not change.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission reported Friday that more than 69,000 absentee ballots had already been received for the election. The state also announced personal protective equipment and sanitizing supplies will be distributed to local clerks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during voting.

The National Guard will also be deployed at polling places experiencing shortages of this equipment. According to the Elections Commissioner, around 250 members have been activated, although 125 will be initially assigned to polling places with the rest on stand-by.

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Zunker is currently the president of the Wausau School Board and advocates for education policies. Tiffany currently serves as a member of the Wisconsin State Senate, where he’s pushed for anti-abortion policies and gun rights.

FiveThirtyEight reports that while no public polling is available for the race, the Republican candidate is considered a favorite. The district voted for Trump by more than 16 points in 2016 and favored the Republican candidate in the state’s Senate race in 2018. 

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