Voters who vanished in 2016 could play role in 2020 contest

Posted at 10:15 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 23:15:10-05

In the last presidential election, Donald Trump won Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes.

That's half the number of voters in the city of Milwaukee who vanished for the 2016 election.

One of the things that could tip this year's race is if those voters come back.

Voters like Jasmine Wright, who turned out twice for Barack Obama, but stayed home in 2016.

This time around, Wright was determined to make her vote count.

"I wear a mask all day. I work in food service. I just decided to absentee ballot because to stand outside for three to four hours and it's starting to get cold -- it's not my cup of tea," she said.

In just the city of Milwaukee, there were 41,006 voters like Wright. They cast a ballot in 2012 but sat out in 2016.

In the weeks after winning, then-president-elect Trump credited his victory to black voters who stayed home.

Two wards in the heart of Milwaukee's north side saw drop-offs of about 40 percent, the 111th and 145th.

There were 219 people in those wards who voted in 2008 and 2012, but chose not to vote in 2016.

Election records show some of those voters are coming back.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission says 53 of those voters are still registered at their old addresses. As of last week, 16 had requested a mail-in ballot.

Like the man at 26th and Chambers who didn't want to appear on camera but said over the phone "it's rough out here."

Also, Jasmine Wright.

Wright says she's probably alone on her block, but she voted Trump.

She credits the president for the coronavirus stimulus plan that put money in her pocket.

"If it wasn't for that stimulus package, I wouldn't be here right now because I wouldn't have a house," she said.

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