City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Press Release

Milwaukee Election Worker Staffing Drops As Cases Rise

City has less than one-third of required election workers

By - Mar 29th, 2020 04:53 pm
Voters at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

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

MILWAUKEE— March 29, 2020, The City of Milwaukee Election Commission reports a continued decline in election worker staffing numbers in anticipation of next week Tuesday’s Spring Election and Presidential Primary.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly half of the City’s election workforce were over the age of 60, with one-third over the age of 70. A majority of those workers have indicated an inability to work due to their high-risk status. Others, following local and state Stay at Home guidelines, are self-confining. The City has provided regular updates to elected state officials as well as the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

“The math is simple,” said Neil Albrecht, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Election Commission. “We would normally operate our 180 sites with a minimum of 1,400 election workers. As of today, we have less than 400. We will not be able to maintain our longstanding tradition neighborhood-based voting for this election.”

The Commission’s recruitment efforts have been ongoing and many in Milwaukee have come forward to allow senior election workers to stay home, but the numbers of trained workers have declined daily. The Commission has three more training classes scheduled prior to the election.

The Election Commission is currently reviewing voting models used by other states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as seeking guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Many municipalities in Wisconsin are consolidating sites in order to reduce the number of necessary workers and to be able to better enforce health and safety standards.

One option would involve Milwaukee moving to a model of ‘voting centers,’ where several aldermanic districts are combined into one voting site. “This is not a model I’m comfortable with,” said Neil Albrecht, citing that combined sites could also mean many more people voting per site, “but this is where the inaction of the Wisconsin Legislature has left the public: potentially placing themselves at risk in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote.”

Milwaukee has joined with other municipalities across the state to request an extension of the election date and limit voting to absentee only. Last week, all 19 Milwaukee County municipalities submitted a letter to the governor and members of the Wisconsin Legislature encouraging the elimination of inperson voting due to the risk to election workers and the public. To date, there has been no response.

The City continues to urge residents to vote absentee by applying online at myvote.wi.gov, or at Milwaukee’s recently launched drive-up voting site at the Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building located at 841 N. Broadway. By-mail absentee ballots can be requested up until Thursday, April 2, and returned by mail or at any of the City’s five absentee ballot drop-off sites. Drive-up voting will continue until Sunday, April 5, with weekday hours of 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and weekend hours of 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

More about the 2020 Spring Primary

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Mentioned in This Press Release

Recent Press Releases by City of Milwaukee Election Commission

City of Milwaukee Election Commission

The City of Milwaukee Election Commission released the following statement

“The city estimates that around 2,000 of 47,500 absentee ballots were reconstructed during the processing of absentee ballots.”

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