Jeramey Jannene

City Will Accept Absentee Ballots, Serve as Required Witness at Five Sites

56,000 absentee ballots requested already. Lawsuits pending in court could change election.

By - Mar 26th, 2020 05:27 pm
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Voters at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Voters at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The April 7th Spring Election will poise a host of problems for municipalities, but the City of Milwaukee is moving to make things easier for voters.

People voting by mail no longer need to worry about mailing their ballot back or finding a witness to sign their ballot. The Milwaukee Election Commission is offering five drop off sites (detailed below) and is able to serve as a voter witness.

Registered votes have until April 2nd to request a by-mail absentee ballot from the state’s website, but it must be received back by their municipality by April 7th. To avoid timing issues, Milwaukee voters can drop off their ballots at the Bay View, Mill Road, Washington Park and Zablocki branches of the Milwaukee Public Library and the Zeidler Municipal Building from 8 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. through April 7th.

Over 56,000 absentee ballots have been requested by Milwaukee voters.

Mayor Tom Barrett told the media Thursday afternoon that he expects the court system to issue a ruling on the election in the coming days. “We need clarity on this,” said Barrett. “We need one set of rules to go forward so we don’t have a hodgepodge that lessens our confidence in democracy.”

Two lawsuits are in federal court regarding the election. One in the state’s western district was filed by the Democratic Party. Judge William Conley issued an order in that case last week that extended online voter registration through March 30th. Another in the eastern district was filed by the City of Green Bay. The Green Bay suit asks the state to cancel the in-person election and mail ballots to all registered voters, extending the election to early June.

“I am very interested in having the City of Milwaukee as part of one or both of those lawsuits,” said Barrett. The independent City Attorney’s Office is led by Grant Langley. Both Langley and Barrett are on the spring election ballot.

County clerks in Milwaukee and Dane counties issued guidance allowing voters to declare themselves “indefinitely confined,” which would provide them an absentee ballot without the need to upload a photo ID to the state website first.

“I urge all voters who request a ballot and do not have the ability or equipment to upload a valid ID to indicate that they are indefinitely confined,” wrote Milwaukee County Clerk George L. Christenson.

But the Republican Party is opposing the guidance. “The Republican Party of Wisconsin will aggressively pursue any legal remedy available to put a stop to clerks unilaterally and illegally rigging an election in their favor,” said party chairman Andrew Hitt in a statement.

Barrett has raised concern the city may not have enough poll workers if the election proceeds as scheduled in-person. The city suspended in-person early voting this week. “There has to be a change, whether it’s all mail-in balloting, where it’s a new date, this issue is going to explode,” said Barrett on Monday.

He sent a letter to Governor Tony Evers, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos asking for a switch to mail-in voting.  “In good conscience I would not ask one of my loved ones to sit in a room for hours greeting dozens of people during this pandemic. I can’t expect citizens of my city to do that either,” wrote Barrett.

Drop Off Sites

Drop off sites are open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. through April 7th.

  • Bay View Library – 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
  • Mill Road Library – 6431 N. 76th St.
  • Washington Park Library – 2121 N. Sherman Blvd.
  • Zablocki Library – 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave. (enter through the courtyard)
  • Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building – 841 N. Broadway

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More about the 2020 Spring Primary

Read more about 2020 Spring Primary here

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

Categories: Politics

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