Support voting efforts in Wisconsin
September 16, 2020
Voting isn’t as straightforward as it once was. In Wisconsin, voters in the primary election this past spring had to stand in line wearing masks and other protective gear for hours because the number of polling places in cities like Milwaukee had been greatly reduced. Now facing a post office seemingly going into crisis mode, absentee ballots seem at risk. How can Wisconsin voters help get out the vote?
I had been planning to serve as a poll worker myself, but underlying health issues make me vulnerable to COVID-19. So I searched for other ways to serve. I found one way in a group called Moms Rising (MomsRising.org).
The national group has grown from a handful of concerned moms to over a million. It promotes grassroots concerns of women, children, and families by joining many voices together to capture the attention of lawmakers. Its web site alerts members and others on how to take action. To help get out the vote this fall, it is promoting a postcard, phone call, and text campaign.
All three contact methods are meant to remind voters to go to the polls. I signed up to take part in the postcard campaign. I will receive 10 (or more if I choose) eye-catching Moms Rising postcards on which I will write a personal encouragement and reminder to vote in the November election. I then return the packet of completed postcards in the envelope provided by Moms Rising and the organization will mail them to people across the country. It’s a personal way to remind people to cast their ballot without putting anyone’s health in danger.
Kristin*, a resident of southern Wisconsin, wanted to support voting this fall, too. Because she is not in a high-risk category for COVID-19, Kristin signed up to count mail-in ballots.
“We have seen many of our election workers step aside due to health concerns, so the call went out for new volunteers,” she explains. “We have a lot to lose; once lost, fair elections may not be recovered.”
Kristin signed up by emailing her city clerk’s office in response to a notice calling for volunteers. She will get trained to count mail-in ballots, and believes it will take a few hours online. She says she’ll connect with others who have done this before and can answer her questions.
The City of Madison plans to mail absentee ballots to those who have requested them on September 17. To shore up the return of those ballots, the city has organized an event in over 200 city parks called Democracy in the Park.
Democracy in the Park is a partnership between the City Clerk’s Office and the City of Madison Parks Division. Poll workers will be stationed in over 200 city parks on September 26 and October 3 to receive absentee ballots in person. The event will take place from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM both days. The city has also set up alternate days in case of inclement weather: September 27 and October 4.
Poll workers will wear high visibility vests and face masks, and position themselves next to “Vote” yard signs in the parks. Social distancing and sanitizing will take place at each drop-off spot. The poll workers will be available to witness ballots if needed. At 3:00 PM each day, an election official courier and poll workers will count the number of absentee ballots, and seal them in a delivery package with a tamper-proof seal with a unique serial number. The seal number and the number of ballots will then be documented on a chain-of-custody form signed by the poll workers and courier in the park. The courier will then take the ballots back to the City Clerk’s Office.
Additional ballot drop-off locations will continue to be announced. Check for drop-off sites at https://www.cityofmadison.com/news/democracy-in-the-park-event-planned-for-september-26-october-3.
Voting may not be “normal” this November, but casting a ballot is more important than ever. So add your help to a voting effort.
“Do it,” Kristin says. “This is our right and duty as Americans.”
*Name was changed at interviewee’s request.