Dear Governor Evers, Senator Scott Fitzgerald and Representative Robin Vos:
As we all navigate the unprecedented health and economic challenges that covid-19 has brought to residents throughout the State of Wisconsin, I want to thank each of you for the leadership you have shown. We have already witnessed the disruption and hardships this disease has caused in addition to the health ramifications that are continuing to unfold. We must continue to work together as leaders and Americans to do all we can to protect the health and well-being of all residents in our great state. It is in that spirit that I write to you about the spring election scheduled for April 7. In conversations with each of you individually, I have supported your shared desire to hold our spring primary as scheduled. Having monitored the situation we are experiencing in Milwaukee, I now believe that neither in-person absentee voting nor in-person voting on April 7 is feasible or safe for our workers or residents. Consequently, I am asking you to modify the election procedure and to conduct it through mail ballots. Late yesterday afternoon, I learned that the Elections Commission for the City of Milwaukee could no longer maintain sufficient staffing levels to operate our three in-person absentee or “early” voting locations. This occurred because the Election Commission was losing staff daily, including site supervisors.
The staffing situation has become even more challenging as a result of both the local and state “stay at home” orders. In fact, late this afternoon, Neil Albrecht, Executive Director of the Commission, informed me that since the Governor’s announcement this morning, “we are losing the commitment of dozens of election workers by the hour,” including chief inspectors who run the sites.
In addition, uploading an ID is confusing and cumbersome to voters and many do not have the cell phone or internet access to facilitate the process properly. For some individuals, it would present a significant barrier to voting. Consequently, photo ID requirements should be waived for registered voters.
Accommodations also need to be made for the witness requirement as a result of the limits on social mobility and interaction. Finally, current state law does not permit us to count absentee ballots until election day. We could see as many as 130,000 absentee ballots cast in Milwaukee, compared to 62,000 in the 2016 Presidential Election. We need a significantly longer processing period that begins prior to any election date.
Timing is of the essence. Every day spent preparing for in-person voting is a lost opportunity for municipalities to retool their election systems and regain traction with meeting the already heavy demands for absentee ballots.
In closing, I do not make this request lightly. Like all of you I have hoped that this step would not be necessary. Unfortunately, it is.
- WI Daily: 929 New COVID-19 Cases Reported - Urban Milwaukee - Apr 14th, 2021
- “We are not out of the woods yet. Let’s not lose our way.” – Sen. Larson statement on COVID-19 diagnosis - State Sen. Chris Larson - Apr 14th, 2021
- Court Kills Another Evers Pandemic Order - Shawn Johnson - Apr 14th, 2021
- WI Daily: 922 New COVID-19 Cases Reported - Urban Milwaukee - Apr 13th, 2021
- City Won’t Enhance Current COVID-19 Restrictions - Graham Kilmer - Apr 13th, 2021
- State Wants Pause in Johnson & Johnson Vaccine - WPR Staff - Apr 13th, 2021
- Wisconsin DHS Pauses Administration of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Apr 13th, 2021
- More of State’s Urban Schools Went Virtual - Madeline Fox - Apr 13th, 2021
- WI Daily: 402 New COVID-19 Cases Reported - Urban Milwaukee - Apr 12th, 2021
- Special Work Session Called on MPS School Reopening - Larry Miller - Apr 12th, 2021
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