Milwaukee

“Unprecedented” elections: coronavirus, absentee ballot, political conflict – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2020-10-14 14:32:24 –

“We live in an unprecedented time,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the press when he welcomed them to the warehouse where Milwaukee’s vote took place. “There are concerns about the safety and legitimacy of the next election. Some of those concerns are valid. Some of those concerns are completely wrong. We today tell Milwaukee residents about the next election. I’m here to ensure you’re ready. “

Over the past few months, the White House has questioned the legitimacy of American elections, predicting that President Donald Trump is none other than “the most corrupt election in our history.” Voting by mail has become the center of national controversy, with Trump’s claim to allow fraudulent voting.

As the United States prepares for the most important presidential election in living memory, local and state officials have done everything to ensure the safety and efficiency of the voting process. Made an unprecedented effort to convey.

What you need to know to vote

Milwaukee voters have four options for voting. Putting a ballot in one of the drop boxes to avoid absentee ballots (or early voting), mail, or the postal system directly on election day.

The first step is to make sure you are registered to vote. Claire Woodall Vog, Secretary-General of the Milwaukee Election Commission, encourages voters to check their registration status online at myvote.wi.gov. “The deadline for online or mail registration is Wednesday, October 14, but voters need to know that it’s never too late,” she explains. “At the early polling place, voters are registered until Friday before the election and you can register directly on the election day, so it’s never too late to change your mind to vote.” Proof of residence is required.

“Wisconsin voters don’t need an excuse to vote at home,” said Woodall-Vogg. You can apply for an absentee ballot at myvote.wi.gov by submitting a copy of your legally recognized photo ID (a simple smartphone photo of your ID will suffice). When you receive a blank ballot, you will need to sign the certificate envelope, sign the witness and provide your address. Witnesses can be any US citizen or family member.

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“The next step is to return the ballot. If you want to make sure it counts on election day, ask the voters to mail it by Monday, October 26.” If you don’t want to rely on services, you can use one of the 15 drop boxes available for elections. They are under 24-hour surveillance, have a seal that confirms unauthorized opening, and the contents are collected daily and kept under the key until they are shipped to the warehouse. However, you cannot drop ballots at regular polling stations.

If you wish to vote early, voters can go to one of the 13 early voting locations, which is open from Tuesday, October 20th to Sunday, November 1st. Times and locations are available online at milwaukee.gov/414votes. ..

The third and most “normal” voting method is the election day at a regular polling place. The Milwaukee Election Commission guarantees that 173 polling stations will be held, unlike the April elections.

A copy of your photo ID is required for absentee ballots, and you must present your original ID for direct voting. The State Election Commission has clarified that the following IDs are acceptable: ID cards or driver’s licenses issued by Wisconsin, military IDs, US passports, IDs issued by Wisconsin-accredited universities or colleges: (With proof of current enrollment in school)).

“If voters don’t have a photo ID to vote in Wisconsin, they can actually get a free ID card from the Wisconsin DMV,” said Meagan Wolfe, director of the Wisconsin Election Commission. “If you appear on election day and you don’t have a photo ID that you need to vote for. You can cast what is called a provisional vote. A provisional vote means that you can fill out a regular vote. Means, seal the interim voting envelope. And by 4pm on Friday after the election, you will need to bring your photo ID to amend the interim voting. Still in the official total. It will be counted. “

Face an unprecedented era

The November general election is not the first election that took place during the coronavirus pandemic. However, as we have empirically seen in the April primary in Wisconsin, it is unacceptable to maintain a voting method that is not designed to withstand a pandemic. Studies have shown a significant increase in COVID-19 infections in the April elections, despite low turnout, and Wisconsin has been a major hotspot for the disease ever since. Thus, it is not surprising to see a strong resurgence of absentee ballots.

“The general rule of thumb over the last few years is that 70% of people vote directly and 30% vote absentee. It can be upside down. There is a great demand for absentee ballots. “Mayor Barrett says.

At the state level, 1.3 million absentee votes have already been requested, and more than 750,000 Wisconsin have already voted by mail or dropbox. With the Milwaukee count alone, more than 110,000 votes were issued, with 40,000 completed and returned. About 70% of it is physically dropped into the collection box without going through the United States Postal Service (USPS). Claire Woodall Vog estimates that the election day will come, “you need 150,000 to 200,000 votes to count.”

To ensure the safety of all ballots, the Election Commission checks to see if each incoming ballot has been returned and cancels the ballots lost by the smart barcode system. It can be reissued. Ballots are stored in a warehouse with 24-hour video surveillance and a limited number of locked doors with keys. It can only be accessed in pairs to make sure no one has a ballot. “Every number has a voter number, which prevents anyone from voting more than once. It slows us down, but is one of the guarantees of accuracy and integrity of absentee ballots. “Woodall-Vogg explains. Voters can track their ballots and request alternative ballots if there is a problem. Voters can vote directly on election day or return the ballot directly to the central count via the dropbox, even if there is not enough time to receive and return a replacement ballot. However, you can only do so if you make sure that your votes are not counted through the MyVote online system.

Milwaukee uses central counts, causing dire problems during a pandemic, forcing the Election Commission to move central counts out of cramped warehouses. “We leased office space in Fifth and Michigan to occupy the entire block. It’s much more outdoors and a bit safer,” says Woodall-Vogg. Ballot collection boxes and ballot locations are intended to distribute voters as much as possible to avoid congestion and potential Superspreader events.

On Election Day itself, the Election Commission recruited more than 3,500 voting workers to work at 173 polling stations, and they recruited another 500 to work at Central Count. Voters should expect plexiglass to separate voters from voting workers, as well as essential masks, social distance expansion and disinfection. Voters are required to show photo ID through the glass and are advised to bring their own pen.

Battle with Republican Parliament

Voter oppression is not a bipartisan effort. While blowing the whistle of fraudulent voting, equivalent to only 0.0001% of 2016 votes, Republicans are doubling measures to limit Americans’ voting ability. In particular, they have sought to suppress mail voting. This is one of Donald Trump’s central issues in the campaign trajectory. In Wisconsin, Republican parliamentary actions are causing problems comparable to those caused by the pandemic, our election officials say.

“It’s a big challenge that the election law is constantly changing as we approach the election day,” says Woodall-Vogg. “This adds a third difficulty to this election. There was a pandemic, two elections, a mailing election and an election day election. Then, at the very end, the voting law could be changed. Add a case with. It’s definitely not an easy task. “

Indeed, less than a month after the November elections, the law was changed again in a pinch as Republican proceedings fought a ruling that facilitated voting. As a result, election day must be returned by election day. Even if the postmark is stamped before the election date and it arrives late, it will be considered invalid. This is linked to the Trump administration’s efforts to thwart the USPS prior to the election. Slow email means a low number of votes.

Mayor Barrett was a frank opponent of this voter repression strategy. “Returning to the April elections, the US Supreme Court changed the rules the afternoon before the election. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals changed the rules, and the Federal District Court and the State Election Commission changed the rules. Everything is changing, everything is changing, which creates tremendous uncertainty. “

Another central issue between the Republican Parliament and local governments and election committees is the requirement that none of the hundreds of thousands of early votes begin to count until 7 am on election day. “It creates an incredible logistical challenge! In fact, you might think someone wants the system to fail by designing it that way,” Mayor Barrett opposed the state legislature. .. “From a common sense point of view, we were able to start a day or two early. It makes sense from an efficiency point of view, and certainly from a health point of view. It will be free, and you will think someone will care about it. Apparently, Congress doesn’t care about it. “

“During a pandemic, hundreds of people work in one place a day. That’s what the legislature demands. This shows that the legislature isn’t dealing with the pandemic. Another indicator. It just goes against the logic. With the help of those who want to make this election a success, it was much safer and much easier, “the mayor added.

The Milwaukee Election Commission has warned that unprecedented absentee votes will not be pre-counted, so results will not arrive at least “until the early morning of November 4th.” .. “We cannot release the results until all the results are complete. Therefore, voters should wake up the day after the election and not be surprised to see them. [hundreds of thousands] The number of votes added to the Wisconsin total. Election results will not be official until the state approves the election. “



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