The Open Letter Defending Mail-In Voting In Wisconsin During The Pandemic That Medium Censored—Nearly Two Years Later
***UPDATE: Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order that shut down in-person voting scheduled for April 7 and moved the date for in-person voting to June 9. Wisconsin Republicans are fighting Evers’ move in the state courts.
***UPDATE: Numerous medical professionals, public health officials, scientists, advocates, elected representatives, and others were encouraged to add their names to this open letter. But Medium Trust & Safety censored my open letter and removed the names of people who had signed.
I complained to Medium in February 2022. No one at Medium ever bothered to address my rebuttal to their claim that the signed open letter violated Medium’s Rules.
I received an email from Medium Trust & Safety that is attached. They flagged a post, “Open Letter To Extend Mail-In Voting and Reschedule March Primaries Amid Pandemic.” They claim that “Medium’s Rules don’t allow posts that name specific private individuals” and that I must “remove the names of all individuals who no longer wish to be included in this list.”
The post was published March 12, 2020. The rules that I am referred to are dated May 26, 2021. But I understand. Medium is going through posts on the platform to find posts that may violate the rules and asking writers to make sure they comply with the rules.
The issue is the names are listed as signatories of a petition, something which Medium’s rules do not contemplate. In other words, I used the Medium platform to mobilize opposition to an action that states were planning to take during the pandemic that exposed people unnecessarily to COVID-19. Over 2,500 people signed.
I have the privacy section in front of me, and I cannot figure out which part of the list of names violates the rules.
The post does not contain images of, transcripts of, copies of, or links to private communications between private individuals. The post does not have anything that could be construed as doxing. The post does not feature intimate or explicit images without the subject’s consent. The post does not contain credit card numbers, social security numbers, non-public phone numbers, physical addresses, email addresses, or similar information.
The list contains full names and some of the people, when they signed the petition, included their professional titles and occupations, especially if they were medical professionals.
Since this was published in March 2020, it is a historical document that reflects a small, online grassroots effort that occurred during the pandemic. Neither of the individuals on the list have contacted me to have their names removed. All of the people included signed the petition knowing it was an open letter and would be public.
Therefore, I respectfully ask for someone at Medium to further advise me on how the post violates Medium’s rules. I appreciate any guidance that someone from the support staff may be able to provide, especially since the post has been suspended.
Original Open Letter Post
To DNC Chair Tom Perez and Members of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Governor Tony Evers, the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Wisconsin Health Department, and other Wisconsin state officials:
More than half of the counties in the state of Wisconsin have reported cases of the coronavirus, and yet, state officials currently are pressing onward with in-person voting during a primary that was scheduled for April 7 before the global pandemic.
Although Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, has pushed for an extension for mail-in voting, Republicans, who control the legislature, have thwarted Evers’ efforts. They refuse to join 13 other states, which have rescheduled primaries.
Republican obstruction makes it certain that a significant amount of the population will be disenfranchised, but this may be part of their plan. In December, a Wisconsin judge purged the voter roll of 234,000 voters in a move that was described as a “victory for conservatives that could make it more difficult for people to vote” in a “key swing state.”
Souls to the Polls (STTP), Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC), Voces de la Frontera, the League of Women Voters Wisconsin, and the American Federation of Teachers, Local 212, AFL-CIO, sued the Wisconsin Election Commission to force the postponement of the primary.
The groups organize to increase participation in elections among low-income black and Hispanic voters.
“If the elections are not postponed, many voters will not vote because they are either unfamiliar or unwilling to go to the polls on election day and risk COVID-19 infection,” according to the lawsuit. “The cancellation of same day registration,” which typically accounts for 20 percent of total turnout in primary election, will “cause a turnout reduction that disproportionately impacts African American and Hispanic residents.”
Five states previously scheduled to vote on April 28 — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island — moved their primary to June 2. And, on March 28, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that moved the state’s presidential primary to June 23.
Given Evers’ order that shut down non-essential businesses from March 25 until April 24, the Wisconsin Health Department should designate polling locations as health emergency risks. It would be impossible to hold in-person voting without 10+ person gatherings occurring in defiance of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Wisconsin legislature and/or the state’s judicial system would have to develop an alternative plan for the primary that ensured the maximum amount of voter participation. Officials could also invoke broad emergency authorities and temporarily extend the terms for certain officials so those officials may continue to help Wisconsin respond to the pandemic until voting took place.
A day before their scheduled primary, the state of Ohio took similar steps, and it is widely acknowledged that this protected voters’ health and safety and minimized voter disenfranchisement that would have occurred.
Risks to voters and poll workers are very real. Florida ignored concerns from medical professionals and held their primary on March 17. On March 26, local news outlets in South Florida reported that two poll workers in one of the state’s most populous counties tested positive for coronavirus.
As people obey stay-at-home orders and avoid public places and crowds, Wisconsin can expect turnout to be depressed. Rescheduling the primaries would ensure that every resident is allowed to exercise their right to vote without fear.
Medical professionals, public health officials, scientists, advocates, elected representatives, and others are encouraged to add their name to this letter here.
No one should have to choose between staying at home to protect their health and going to the polls to fulfill a constitutional obligation. Plus, when the pandemic is still intensifying in Wisconsin, it postponement helps doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and medical professionals by ensuring the spread of the virus remains curtailed.
For the health of our fellow citizens and our democracy, please act now to postpone the upcoming April 7 primary to June 2 and extend mail-in voting to accommodate all registered voters, as well as residents who have yet to register to vote.