Milwaukee County leaders hope to launch an effort to promote voting and voter registration as Wisconsin residents continue to deal with the fallout from lawsuits and rule changes regarding ballot box access.
The county council is expected to vote on the plan on Thursday. The county’s finance committee recommended spending $50,000 on the education and outreach effort in a 6-1 vote last week.
“We believe in safe, free, and fair elections no matter which side of the aisle you sit on,” Milwaukee County Supervisor and resolution co-sponsor Marcelia Nicholson said at the meeting. committee.
The passage of the resolution follows the state Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this month that bans most ballot boxes and makes it illegal for someone else to return an absentee ballot. voter at the clerk’s office.
County officials and suffrage activists gathered on the steps of the Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building in downtown Milwaukee on the morning of July 21 to support the resolution ahead of the committee’s vote. They held up signs reading “Voters decide” and “Our voice, our vote”.
“Election funding and taxpayer dollars should be used to support voter access and free and fair elections, not an attempt to subvert and subvert election results,” said Shauntay Nelson, director of the State of Wisconsin for All Voting is Local, at the rally. “This resolution is therefore a response to a cry to widen access to the ballot.”
The funds will support a similar effort to the county’s outreach and education campaigns in 2016 and 2020.
“(It) will include new ideas, of course, but also things we’ve done in the past, like bus shelter ads, bus ads, billboard ads,” said Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson. “And it’s going to be a non-partisan effort. It’s just going to be about encouraging people, telling them where to go to register or how to vote, and making sure they’re armed with the information they need to vote safely.”
In previous campaigns, the city, county clerk, and Milwaukee County Election Commission set up voter registration kiosks at City Hall, public libraries and senior centers. Organizers also advertised in cinemas and on the radio, and organized a national voter registration day.
“Voter registration throughout Milwaukee County increased 14% between January 1, 2020 and December 1, 2020,” Christenson said. “And I’m confident that our 2020 voter education and awareness campaign had a meaningful impact. It’s not wasted dollars.”
But, because of this month’s ruling, voting will be more difficult than in previous years for many residents, Milwaukee County Supervisor Felesia Martin said. Many voters will not be able to vote or will need additional help.
“Think of those who don’t have the mobility to get to a polling station, who don’t have transportation, who don’t have legs, they’re just bedridden,” she said. “Their voices need to be heard and they need help. And to say someone can’t take your ballot and submit it for you is wrong, in fact it’s immoral.”
Last week, the Wisconsin Elections Commission announced plans to launch a voter education campaign this fall, with information to be disseminated through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
The primary election will take place on August 9. Voters can register before August 5 at their city clerk’s office or at their polling place on election day.