Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Will Have Only Five In-Person Voting Sites

As city is short over 1,000 poll workers, polling sites reduced from 180 to 5.

By - Apr 3rd, 2020 04:00 pm
Voters at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Voters at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee Election Commission has cut the number of polling places from 180 to five for the April 7th Spring Election as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s less than half of the up to 12 predicted by Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht on Tuesday. Albrecht reported Wednesday the city has only 400 of the 1,400 poll workers it normally relies on.

The five sites, all Milwaukee Public Schools high schools, will each serve three aldermanic districts. They include Riverside High School (districts one, three and six), Marshall High School (districts two, five and nine), South Division High School (districts four, 12 and 14), Washington High School (seven, 10 and 15) and Hamilton High School (districts eight, 11 and 13). Residents of four wards (47, 67, 107 and 181) will vote at a different high school than the rest of their aldermanic district.

Voters should visit the state’s My Vote WI website to confirm their polling place if they plan to vote in person.

Albrecht and Mayor Tom Barrett have repeatedly asked voters to vote absentee or use the drive-thru voting location outside the Zeidler Municipal Building instead of going to the polls on election day. But voters only have until on Friday, April 3rd to request an absentee ballot via the state’s website. It must be received back by the issuing municipality by April 13th at 4:00 p.m.

Drive-thru voting will continue through the weekend. Workers wear masks and voters do not need to leave their vehicles. The city previously canceled in-person early voting that was operating at three different sites.

Over 75,000 Milwaukee voters had requested an absentee ballot as of Wednesday afternoon and thousands more requests were expected to come in. But Albrecht predicted Wednesday that up to 140,000 people could vote in Milwaukee, meaning thousands might still come to the polls.

Earlier Friday Governor Tony Evers called a special session of the Wisconsin State Legislature for Saturday with the intent to delay the election and convert it to mail-in only, but legislative leaders have not shown a willingness to act.

Barrett was asked Tuesday if he’s comfortable with asking people to go to the polls. “No, not one bit,” said Barrett. “My fear is that our election in Wisconsin might be the largest event in the country in April.” He called for a mail-in only election last week.

He reiterated that concern Friday afternoon. “I want people to vote, but I want them to be safe when they vote,” said Barrett.

Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said she would close the polls and delay the election if she had the power. “I would love to close the polls, but because the Governor’s executive order 12 has an exemption for polls that’s where my powers are limited,” said Kowalik. “It’s going to be extremely challenging. I just don’t believe it makes sense to have the election on the seventh of April”

“It’s rare that legislators have a chance to vote on something that could directly save people’s lives,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “That’s exactly what this is.”

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Categories: Politics

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