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Wisconsin election officials prepare for voter intimidation and ensure a fair and safe election

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Wisconsin officials assure voters that the election process is fair and safe

Poll workers across the state are trained to diligently verify voter information, manage lines, and answer election process questions. As we approach Wisconsin midterms, they’re also preparing for any illegal activity like voter intimidation.

In Wisconsin, the state’s Department of Justice has issued a statement saying that any voter intimidation or threats to election workers will be prosecuted to ensure a safe and fair election for Wisconsin voters. The special attention to preventing voter intimidation has been prominent for Wisconsin election officials on all facets such as individual polling sites, election committees and the Wisconsin Attorney General office.

According to a local polling site chief inspector, an election committee chair, and the Attorney General of Wisconsin, Wisconsin voters can be confident in exercising their rights to vote safely.

Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Elections Commission

Woodall-Vogg explains that there are 180 polling sites in the city of Milwaukee and the workers are all trained to ensure the voter's identity. This will require asking the voter for their name and current address and confirming that the voter is registered under the current address.

One of the biggest focuses for election workers is ensuring that voters are only casting one ballot while still protecting their right to vote absentee. The election workers have updated lists of voters that were issued absentee ballots in the mail. Different from many U.S. states, as long as the voter has yet to return their absentee ballot, they will be permitted to vote. Woodall-Vogg says, " It's never too late to decide to vote in Wisconsin because we do have Election Day registration, which we're one of only a handful of states that allow you to update your address and register on Election Day."

In addition to having updated lists of people who are ineligible to vote, the election workers are also trained in maintaining crowds of people to ensure that voters are only waiting in line for an average of 15 minutes.

Dave McClurg, chief inspector of a Waukesha polling site

McClurg has been a polling site chief inspector since 2020, when he was first approached for the work amid shortages created by the pandemic. Chief inspectors have to undergo extensive training in preparation for their roles. McClurg explains that chief inspectors must undergo base training sponsored by the State Elections Committee, which lasts around four hours. In addition to that, with each election term, there is additional training that lasts about six hours.

While McClurg and other chief inspectors are trained to look for an activity that may be considered voter intimidation, election officials want Wisconsin voters to realize the clear difference between election observers and voter intimidation. Election observers are permitted and play a vital role in the election process. However, they are not permitted to interact with voters.

Josh Kaul, Attorney General of Wisconsin

Attorney General Kaul expands on this topic. He says, "Voter intimidation is using a threatening force to compel somebody to vote or to keep them from voting or to influence their voting decision [or] any conduct that is potentially criminal."

Kaul continues, "It's also important for Wisconsinites to know that if there are issues that arise, that they can report them to their elected officials [and] to local law enforcement and for them to know that law enforcement is prepared to respond." Kaul also points out that in the previous Wisconsin elections in 2016 and 2020, the results were verified through recounts, ensuring accurate results and a successful process. Kaul also stresses that the workers will continue to be protected by law after the elections.

Wisconsin's midterm elections are Tuesday, November 8, 2022. If you have a question about voting or the races, submit it below or check out WUWM's voter guide.

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Mallory Cheng joined WUWM as a producer for Lake Effect in 2021.
Robert Larry joined WUWM in 2022 as a digital producer.
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