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Voter Registration Aims To Get The 25% Of Eligible Milwaukee Voters Who Haven't Signed Up

Chuck Quirmbach
Voter registration workers help a Milwaukee motorist register for the November election during Tuesday's event outside Miller Park.

Milwaukee officials say despite a lot of outreach already this year, about 25% of eligible voters in the city have not registered for the November election. The Milwaukee Election Commission, volunteer groups, and the Milwaukee Brewers continued to chip away at that number Tuesday, with a drive-thru voter registration event in the parking lot of Miller Park. 

The event was open to all Wisconsin residents and part of National Voter Registration Day events taking place around the U.S.

One of the people who registered without leaving her car was Jasmine Haines. The West Allis resident, who is Black, says this will be the first time she's cast a ballot in a presidential election.

"I think we have a lot of change happening in our country. In the past, I've kind of just taken life as it comes, and I feel like it's really important that I actually be a part of that change because I don't want to see it end,” Haines told WUWM.

A white Milwaukee woman who gave her name as Jane also came to register. She says it's vital to vote.

"There's a lot of trouble in this country. I believe that my vote matters and that the person I want to win is going to win this year," she said.

Jane says the drive-thru process was extremely easy, and being at the stadium, where fans weren't allowed during the abbreviated baseball season due to COVID-19, was a plus.

"First of all, I really miss the Brewers. So, it was nice to see Miller Park again. And, it was just a great way to drive through and I didn't have to stand in a crowd,’’ Jane said.

Leander Boyd says he drove to the parking lot from the northwest part of Milwaukee to make sure he was still registered from four years ago, and to arrange to have an absentee ballot sent to his home. Boyd, who is Black, says he's not very fond of politicians but will try to make good use of his vote in November.

"I try to be flexible and listen to what everybody says, you know, make the best decision that's gonna benefit not me, but the world, period, the United States,” Boyd said.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
Julietta Henry, director of the Milwaukee County Election Commission, speaks as Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission (right) listens during a news briefing Tuesday in the Miller Park parking lot.

Despite the drive-thru event getting a thumbs-up from many motorists who attended, the number of people who registered appeared to be relatively low.  

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg says the city is actually about 28,000 voter registrations below this time four years ago. She says a lot of that is due to a drop-off of 40,000 voters in November 2016 compared to November 2012 and not voting since.

"In Wisconsin, if you don't vote after four years, you will receive a postcard, and if you do not return that postcard certifying saying you want to stay registered, then you are dropped from the voter rolls,” Woodall-Vogg said

Woodall-Vogg also says a lot of registered voters need to update their address with the city since the last time they voted.

More voter registration events are planned across the area in the next few weeks. Woodall-Vogg cautions about waiting until Election Day to register.

"Often, 20% of our voters in a general election are registering on Election Day. Given the pandemic, it's more important than ever to make that voting plan, and do as much as you can in advance,” Woodall-Vogg said.

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.
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