Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Proposal Would Mail Milwaukee Voters Absentee Request Forms

Proposal from incoming Dimitrijevic would make it easier for people to vote in November election.

By - Apr 16th, 2020 11:50 am
An absentee ballot. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

An absentee ballot. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Incoming Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic has a plan to avoid a repeat of the April 7th Spring Election where almost 20,000 voters stood in long lines at five Milwaukee polling locations.

“I am introducing legislation to create a SafeVote program under which all registered voters in the City of Milwaukee would receive an application for an absentee ballot along with a postage-paid return envelope in time for them to participate in the Fall 2020 General Election,” said Dimitrijevic in a press release. She’ll be sworn into office next Tuesday during the council’s inaugural meeting and her proposal will be one of the few things on the agenda.

Approximately 296,000 Milwaukee residents would receive the letter, allowing them to return to register for an absentee ballot. The ballot would then arrive in advance of the election, hopefully avoiding timing issues that plagued the April 7th election.

Over 18,800 Milwaukeeans cast ballots in person on April 7th, some waiting over two hours in line. “The world watched as Milwaukee voters and poll workers wore masks and practiced social distancing to protect the health of our City for an in-person vote that was dangerous, ill-advised and – as one voter noted in a now viral protest sign – ridiculous,” said Dimitrijevic.

She told Urban Milwaukee that her new colleagues Khalif Rainey, Nikiya Dodd, Nik Kovac, Ashanti Hamilton, Robert Bauman, Cavalier Johnson, Jose G. Perez, Milele A. Coggs and JoCasta Zamarripa have agreed to sign on as co-sponsors.

Dimitrijevic, who has spent the past 16 years on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, said the proposal is modeled after one used by Whitefish Bay that drew a 60 percent turnout in the last election. Suburban Bayside also did the same thing and had a 59 percent absentee turnout. The Milwaukee Election Commission reported a turnout of 32.1 percent in the city. Approximately 76,000 Milwaukeeans voted absentee in the last election, including those that voted early.

The Milwaukee Election Commission, led by Executive Director Neil Albrecht, would be given 30 days to come up with a plan to administer the program.

The proposal would not avoid the state law requiring a valid photo identification document. Those with valid IDs on file with the state would not need to submit another copy, including the tens of thousands of Milwaukeeans who requested a ballot via the state’s My Vote WI website for the spring election. But others may need to submit a copy of their ID alongside the letter or use the My Vote WI website to upload an absentee request digitally.

Dimitrijevic’s proposal isn’t the only proposal. Alderwoman Coggs has requested the council’s Inspector General investigate the absentee ballot process and what happened with the last election.  “We need to strengthen our absentee voting process for residents and make sure we do not have a repeat of the same issues this fall,” she said.

The Milwaukee Election Commission has also requested the United States Postal Service investigate what might have happened to 7,814 ballots mailed on March 22nd and 23rd.

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Categories: City Hall, Politics

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