Editor's note: This story is the third in Madison Commons' series of profiles focused on the current climate of economic uncertainty and the 2020 election cycle.
Long-standing voter Kathleen Chapman is left with frustration and anger after not being able to cast her vote this primary election. As an immunocompromised individual, she has been isolated in her home for more than 30 days. Compromising her health by going to the polls was not a risk she was willing to take.
Out of the 11 states holding an April primary, Wisconsin was the only state to hold an in-person election and not postpone. Chapman, of Sun Prairie, claims people feel mad and hamstrung, and have every right to be.
“The Supreme Court, not surprisingly, said there's no real threat to health and safety here,” Chapman revealed. “The Wisconsin Supreme Court literally ruled that.”
While shocked by this ruling, Chapman was determined to still cast her vote. Participating in the election was important to her. She requested an absentee ballot, as did many others. However, a still-undetermined number of ballots were never delivered.
“People kept noticing that they weren’t getting their ballot. But I believe nobody was ever really going to get them,” Chapman said. “This wasn't just an issue in Sun Prairie. This was happening all over the state.”
Chapman believes this incident was just another way to suppress the ability for people like herself to go out and vote. She continues to speculate as to why the state of Wisconsin decided to go through with the election in April.
“I blame Supreme Court Justice Kelly,” Chapman said. “But it’s not just Kelly himself. It’s the Republican party and the desire for the Supreme Court to remain as reactionary and conservative as possible.”.
Kathleen's husband, Tom Chapman, also expressed his thoughts on the vote. As an individual who did go out to vote this election, he experienced firsthand what went on at the polls.
“There was hardly anybody there. I would say there were actually more polling support volunteers than actual voters,” Tom Chapman said. “I do know that the governor has put a request in for a federal investigation into the United States Postal Service because they were the ones that were supposed to deliver the absentee ballots to everyone who didn’t show up.”
Kathleen Chapman noted that absentee ballots started arriving after the election had already taken place. However, the state will not accept these ballots because the late arrivals, due to the pandemic, are not considered “an extreme circumstance.”
“At this point, if this isn't something people understand as voting suppression, then nothing will get people to understand it,” Chapman said.
Though Chapman feels slighted with the outcome of the election, she and her family continue to navigate through these uncertain times and find themselves busy with activities at home. She claims her “post-apocalyptic life skills” are really coming in handy.
Her living room is a freshly painted bright green and her bedroom is soon to be painted purple. She has sewn more than two dozen masks, and her soap-making operation is in full swing.
“I was able to make a soap that looks like a watermelon. It's cute and fun,” Chapman said. Referencing her closet full of soap-making supplies, she added, “See, I knew soap would come in handy one day.”
Tom remains the family’s sole grocery shopper and they eat every meal with their daughter at home. No less than a week ago, Kathleen promoted supporting local restaurant chains, otherwise they would be stuck with only McDonald’s at the end of this. However, after one bad online food ordering experience, her mindset immediately changed.
“I literally left the basket out for the guy to drop the food off, and he walked around the basket in order to knock on the door,” Chapman laughed. “The meal was prepaid, and pre-tipped, and it was a good tip. I thought, ‘I can't trust this,’ and haven't ordered since. I can’t have people coming to the door.”
Between the pandemic and the election, Chapman is trying her best to remain calm.
“I'm always reminded of the phrase ‘this too shall pass’ because what else are we going to do. Although, I still think I should move to Canada,” Chapman teased.