“This will result in voters no longer being able to participate in electoral policies,” said Marcelia Nicholson, a Milwaukee County regulator. The city of Milwaukee typically has 1,400 election workers spread across 180 polling stations. The city now has only 350 election workers and will have personal polling stations at only five locations, the Milwaukee Election Commission said on Friday. The city of Green Bay will have only two personal voting locations instead of the usual 31.
“Despite this pandemic, despite Milwaukees [high coronavirus case rate] … They tell them to vote and vote and tell them to vote in a hurricane. It’s crazy, ”said Nicholson.
Both Heck and Nicholson said they could not tell people in good conscience to go to the polls in person on Tuesday, and encouraged voters to apply for postal voting, as many other state officials had done. The deadline for applying for absentee voting ends on Friday evening, after a judicial extension.
According to the state election committee, 1.2 million people applied for postal voting on Friday morning. However, this is far less than the 2.1 million people who voted in the 2016 spring elections when both parties had a competitive presidential election, which means that tens, if not more, of the voters might be forced to vote .
District judge William Conley also extended the deadline for returning postal ballots to 4:00 p.m. on April 13 and waived compulsory witness signing for voters who “despite reasonable efforts, were unable to obtain a secure witness certificate.”
The Republican National Committee, the State Republican Party and the GOP-controlled legislature appealed the order. In his callingLegislators argued that Conley’s order was a “late judicial revision of Wisconsin’s election laws” that opened the process for fraud and effectively enabled voters to cast ballots after election day, as the ballots had only a time to return had to be, but no postmark deadline.
Across the state, election workers face a dramatic shortage of election workers, which could exacerbate the health risks for workers and voters. A Wisconsin Elections Commission report Tuesday found that nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin communities reported a lack of election workers and the situation in some areas of the state continued to deteriorate.
“Voting will take place at some of the city’s hotspots, and we are very concerned that the public has to choose between voting and their personal safety, but also that the election itself acts as a hotspot for the spread of the virus,” said Neil Albrecht. Executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission said. Albrecht has requested that personal voting be canceled.
Albrecht estimates that around 100,000 voters will vote in the city this year, compared to almost 168,000 in the 2016 spring election. So far, 75,000 Milwaukee residents have already voted absent, and Albrecht assumes that between 3,000 and 4,000 people will vote on election day will vote personally.
“Voting is important and democracy is important,” he continued. “But if you think about the number of people disenfranchised in a pandemic election and if you think about the risk to public health, it’s not democracy.”