Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Judge Jill Karofsky beat conservative incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly in the state’s elections, according to poll results released on Monday evening, even after voters were forced to show up at the polls in person last week despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
It was a decisive victory, with Karofsky winning 55.3 percent of the vote over Kelly’s vote share of 44.7 percent, according to the New York Times.
“I want to send a heartfelt thank you to the hundred of thousands of Wisconsinites who made their voices heard in this unprecedented election,” Karofsky said in a statement on Monday night. “I’m honored to have earned the trust of people across this state who believe in a tough, fair, and independent judiciary and I promise to never forget these principles as their Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice.”
However, the justice-elect pointed out that despite her victory, the fact that Wisconsinites had to vote in-person even under the threat of catching the coronavirus was “simply unacceptable” and “raise serious concerns for the future of our democracy.”
“Nobody in this state or in this country should have been forced to choose between their safety and participating in an election,” she said. “Too many were unable to have their voices heard because they didn’t feel safe leaving their home or absentee ballots weren’t counted.”
Kelly, who had been endorsed by President Donald Trump, is part of the state Supreme Court’s conservative majority. His defeat knocks the majority down to 4-3.
“It has been the highest honor of my career to serve the people of Wisconsin on their Supreme Court these past four years,” the justice said in his official response. “Obviously I had hoped my service would continue for another decade, but tonight’s results make clear that God has a different plan for my future.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) issued an executive order last week postponing the election to June 9 out of concern that the crowded polling sites would put voters at risk of infection. However, Republicans fought against the order and the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck it down at the final hour, thereby requiring the elections to proceed as normal.
As a result, voters were forced to stand in long lines to reach the polls.
“Good morning and welcome to the Shit Show!” Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) tweeted on the day of the election. “Today’s episode has been produced by the Supreme Court and directed by the incomparable Speaker and Senate Majority leader duo.”