Changes to be aware of when voting absentee in Milwaukee
August 9 is the partisan primary election in Wisconsin, and many Wisconsinites have already voted. Since 2020, absentee voting has become increasingly popular among Wisconsinites. But there have been a number of changes to the process due to decisions by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, explains what this means for Milwaukee voters.
In July, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled absentee ballot drop boxes could only be placed in election offices. Woodall-Vogg says because of this change, make sure you are giving yourself enough time to return your absentee ballot. "You want to make sure you're giving yourself enough time to either mail it back or that you can fit us into your schedule to return it to in person absentee voting location, also known as early voting, or to return it to our office on election day,” she explains.
There are four early voting locations—Midtown Center, Good Hope Library, Zeidler Municipal Building and Zablocki Library. Voters may also turn in their ballot to City Hall. Woodall-Vogg says if voters haven't mailed in their ballot yet, voters will need to turn it in to one of these locations.
“We have curbside pickup right here at City Hall on the corner of Market Street and Kilbourn. You don’t even have to get out of your car,” she shares.
The Supreme Court also ruled that voters must deliver their own absentee ballot. Votes will not be accepted or counted if someone else returns the absentee ballot on another person's behalf.
“Now, the exception is if you have a disability and you need assistance, it's the city of Milwaukee's belief that you are still protected under federal law. So we will record who your agent is, and we will collect your phone number just to be on the safe side,” says Woodall-Vogg.
While the absentee ballot laws are changing, the spirits of election workers are also changing. Some election workers have been facing public harassment since the 2020 presidential election. With the rhetoric that the election was stolen, Woodall-Vogg says she has personally been facing threats.
"So I've been spending the summer training our chief inspectors on de-escalation techniques, general safety, things to be aware of in the polling place," she says. "But really, it's just a sense of the unknown because we can see how rocky democracy is right now, especially with this ongoing rhetoric, even from, you know, candidates and elected officials."
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