Illinois Poll Worker Dies Two Weeks after Primary Election
“No one should ever have to choose between their health and their vote.”
A 60-year old Chicago man, Revall Burke, died from the coronavirus on April 1, just two weeks after working at a polling site for the Democratic primary election, The Chicago Board of Elections announced on Monday.
Burke worked for the city as a parking enforcement officer. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot identified Burke as the first city employee to die from coronavirus on April 2, but it was only announced Monday that he was also a poll worker. Burke’s son said, “he was loving and caring, a family man.
According to CBS Chicago, The Board of Elections has sent out letters to voters and poll workers at two polling stations where primary poll workers had tested positive. The Board is also preparing letters to voters and workers at two additional stations.
Illinois controversially pressed ahead with their primary elections on March 17, just six days after the WHO declared the coronavirus a worldwide pandemic. Illinois Elections Board Chairman Charles Scholz signed a statement along with officials from three other states saying it was safe to proceed with elections.
“We are confident that voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election, and that otherwise healthy poll workers can and should carry out their patriotic duties on Tuesday,” the statement from election officials in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. Ohio postponed its elections at the last moment.
Potentially Deadly Elections
Despite the assurances from election officials that CDC guidelines were being observed, it is clear that holding elections was prioritized over public health.
Chicago’s Cook County has reported 15,474 confirmed coronavirus cases and 543 deaths as of April 13.
Wisconsin pressed ahead with its elections despite the many concern and vicious spread of the virus. The Republican-controlled state legislature refused to take up a motion during emergency sessions and the US Supreme Court ruled the state could not expand on by-mail absentee voting.
Wisconsin’s decision to proceed with the election was likely motivated by political reasons with key local elections also on the ballot. Most notably, Judge Jill Karofsky beat the Trump-endorsed incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly in an upset result.
The conservative-controlled state Supreme Court played a pivotal role in the election going ahead.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler said, “today’s results don’t tell us how many people were exposed to coronavirus at polling places, how many were infected, or how many will die. Had justice prevailed, those numbers would have been zero. No one should ever have to choose between their health and their vote.”
The tragic case of Revall Burke will likely not be the last we hear of voters and volunteers who die from coronavirus.
The complete mismanagement of the elections and risk to the public’s health has cried out for a massive increase in vote-by-mail.
Unfortunately for voters in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin, the two presidential candidates from each party were publicly calling for the elections to go forward.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden told voters ahead of the March 17 elections to head to the polls if they were “not at risk of being exposed to COVID-19.” Biden only changed his tune after Wisconsin’s elections when he said, “my gut is we shouldn’t have had the election.”
President Trump has routinely disparaged vote-by-mail and insisted that it is filled with fraud. When pressed about the fact that he votes by mail, Trump said that he was “allowed to” since he did not live in the state of Florida.
Without nationwide vote-by-mail expansion nationwide, November’s general election is likely to be fraught with voter disenfranchisement and a high risk to public health. Currently five states, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington conduct most of their elections by mail.
With confused and misleading information coming from the heads of both political campaigns, America is at risk of a presidential election in November lacking legitimacy.