Thank you Wisconsinites for your courage, determination, and persistence on April 7.
Polling places had been consolidated to Green Bay West and East high schools which meant long lines. Some voters in Green Bay waited past midnight to cast their ballot. The last person to vote was Earyll Guest. Guest voted at 12:30 a.m. “I thought it was my duty to stand in line and do it the old fashioned way.” As long as people were in line by 8 p.m. they could vote. Some voters stood in line for four hours.
In Milwaukee, voters stood together in lines spanning several blocks. Many were not wearing masks. Normally in an election, Milwaukee has 180 polling places open. On April 7, Milwaukee was down to five.
“The election complication had a racial component as well. Milwaukee is home to the largest concentration of black voters, a community that has been harder hit than others during the pandemic. Reduced minority turnout would benefit Republicans in a series of state and local elections.”
In Milwaukee, Ellie Brandish, 40, said, “We decided to risk our lives to come vote.” “I feel like I’m voting for my neighbors, all the people who don’t have the luxury to wait this long.” She and her husband had requested an absentee ballot that was never received. The wait was two hours long at a drive-through site last weekend, and they couldn’t wait that long.
John Carter, who stood in line, was angry. “I think the Republicans in Madison wanted this,” as he shook his head.
Rosie Redmon, who is 79 and African American, sat in her wheelchair at the front of the line at Riverside University High School. She arrived at 5:45 a.m. with her son and daughter-in-law. “I’m a voter.” “I do not miss voting.” She said too much can go wrong (as we are seeing) with an absentee ballot and that was not an option.
Marelie Nicholson, a member of the Milwaukee board of supervisors said she had requested an absentee ballot March 21 and had not received it as of Tuesday. “I do not consider this a legitimate election, and I myself have experienced disenfranchisement.”
Hannah Gleeson, who is pregnant and infected with the coronavirus, had requested an absentee ballot a week ago and hadn’t received the absentee ballot as of Tuesday.
“It seems really unfair and undemocratic and unconstitutional.” “I think it is voter suppression at its finest.” Ms. Gleeson works at an assisted-living center in Milwaukee.
Terri Kalan, the clerk in Superior, said, “This will be 30 years that I’ve been here, and this was the worst election I’ve been through.” Ms. Kalan cited the stress and uncertainty with the changes to the process.
Twenty-four hundred citizen soldiers with the Wisconsin National Guard were trained to work at the polling stations across the state. They served in plain clothes, along-side the other volunteers.
“It might be the first time nationwide where something like this has happened—where the Guard is physically staffing polls like this,” said Joe Trovato, Captain of the Wisconsin National Guard.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Evers tweeted, “Although, I remain deeply concerned about the public health implications of voting-in person today, I am overwhelmed by the bravery, resilience and heroism of those who are defending our democracy by showing up to vote, working the polls and reporting on this election.
Thank you for giving our state something to be proud of today. Please stay as safe as possible, Wisconsin.”
Thank you to all the courageous people who voted and who worked at the polls Tuesday, April 7.
Thank you to everyone serving on the front lines in Wisconsin each and every day during his pandemic. We are forever grateful.
Joyce Luedke of Rothschild
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