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Experts surprised to find no evidence of COVID-19 spike from Wisconsin's in-person voting
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Experts surprised to find no evidence of COVID-19 spike from Wisconsin's in-person voting

Another theory flushed

Among the many stories peddled by Democrats and their allies in the media about how Republicans supposedly want people to die from the coronavirus, perhaps none have been more prominent than the in-person election held April 7 in Wisconsin. Experts confidently predicted that the election would lead to a spike in coronavirus-related deaths.

Democratic strategist James Carville actually said that "Republicans will literally kill people to stay in power," and he was not alone. The internet was virtually flooded with hot-take think pieces from liberals confidently predicting that Republicans would be held accountable for killing people by requiring them to show up and vote.

Wisconsin's struggle with what to do about its elections was perhaps the most high-profile one in the country, for a number of reasons. It was the last seriously contested Democratic presidential primary, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dropped out after losing the state handily to former Vice President Joe Biden. There was also a hotly contested Supreme Court race on the ballot.

As late as April 2, Gov. Tony Evers (D), backed by Biden, supported holding the election in person as Wisconsin law requires. However, on April 3, Evers changed his mind and asked for the legislature to quickly amend Wisconsin law to allow all voters to vote by mail. The Wisconsin Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, refused to rush such a last-minute change into law, and thus the media was given a "Republicans are literally killing people" narrative.

There's one major problem with that narrative: The in-person voting does not appear to have killed anyone. The state of Wisconsin could identify only about two dozen in-person voters who were infected with coronavirus, and it was impossible to prove that even those people got the virus from voting in person, as opposed to any other method.

"With the data we have, we can't prove an association," said the head of the state's Department of Health Services, according to National Review.

Even left-leaning fact-checking organization Politifact rated a Democratic state senator's claim that in-person voting caused a spike in COVID-19 cases as "false."

Oguzhan Alagoz, an infectious disease modeling expert at the University of Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "I don't think that the in-person election led to a major effect, to my surprise. I expected it."

Which might lead some to wonder what else the infectious disease modeling experts will be surprised by when the economy reopens across most of the country in the coming weeks.

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