Every Milwaukee voter will get absentee ballot application mailed

Posted at 6:12 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 19:12:03-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's Common Council voted unanimously to approve a program that would mail absentee ballot applications to every registered voter.

The city's April 7th election will forever be linked to images of voters in face masks, some waiting in line for hours.

Some voters felt they were chancing their health to vote. Others stayed home or missed out completely when they say their absentee ballots failed to show up on time.

"We all just experienced an election that was scary for many and that many were unable to participate the way that they wanted to. So we learned from that experience," said District 14 Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.

Alderwoman Dimitrijevic authored the resolution to create the "SafeVote Program."

The program would send applications and a postage-paid return envelope to 300,000 voters. Neil Albrecht, Executive Director at the Milwaukee Election Commission, estimates 10-12 percent of registered voters already plan to vote absentee.

Albrecht estimates the cost will be $180,000 and hopes the election commission will be able to absorb it into this year's budget.

Local leaders say the mailings give voters every opportunity to cast a ballot safely despite restrictions caused by or intensified by the pandemic, which may still be going on by the next election.

When asked about concerns regarding absentee ballots during the April election, Albrecht pointed to the chaotic circumstances surround that specific election. He thinks preparation will allow a better response to potential issues moving forward.

"I think it's very good that that resolution passed today because it really encourages a very thoughtful planning process and the opportunity to build infrastructure and capacity," said Albrecht.

The city's election commission is charged with formulating the plan and sorting out logistics within 30 days. The Common Council will have to approve it.

"It's better to be prepared. I don't think anyone is ever going to look back and say all we were over-prepared, so let's make it as easy as possible," said Dimitrijevic.

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