Early voting begins Tuesday in Wisconsin, COVID-19 and voter intimidation top concerns

Posted at 6:34 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 23:17:52-04

MILWAUKEE — The countdown is on for early voting. Starting Tuesday morning, in-person absentee voting begins in Wisconsin.

Similar to Wisconsin elections from earlier this year, coronavirus precautions are top of mind, but with a high stakes presidential race on the ticket, Wisconsin’s attorney general is sending a stern warning about voter intimidation.

Last-minute preparations were underway Monday at Milwaukee’s fourteen early voting sites, including a large building at the Midtown Center on the city’s northwest side. Milwaukee voters can cast their ballots at any of the locations no matter their district.

“I want to make sure they get it so I’m in-person,” said Diane Cintado of Milwaukee.

Cintado plans to vote early to avoid the anticipated long lines and COVID-19 concerns on election day.

“It’s too much of a crowd out here and I’m ready to get this over with without being with all this crowd," says Cintado.

Registered voters have to bring their photo I.D. to cast their ballots. Those who are not registered also need to bring proof of residence if their current address isn’t listed on their I.D.

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg believes around 50,000 Milwaukee residents will vote early over the next two weeks.

“Nationwide, the demand for early voting has increased over the past 15 or 20 years and if other states’ early voting lines are any indication, the demand continues this year,” Woodall-Vogg said.

Woodall-Vogg said coronavirus precautions will be front and center at every Milwaukee early voting location with plexiglass screens, poll workers wearing masks and tables and pens disinfected after each use.

But the pandemic isn’t the only issue. Attorney General Josh Kaul warns about voter intimidation and the stiff penalty that comes with it.

“If someone is for example brandishing a weapon and making a voter concerned about their safety that is quite possibly a crime and would lead to investigation and prosecution,” Kaul said.

Kaul said the same laws apply to election observers. The felony carries a punishment of up to 3.5 years in prison along with a $10,000 fine.

Woodall-Vogg said there won’t be security searching for voter intimidation at Milwaukee’s early voting sites, but the Milwaukee Election Commission has a close partnership with Milwaukee police who will respond to each call.

Kaul is urging Wisconsinites to be patient when it comes to the presidential results. Due to an unprecedented number of absentee ballots that cannot be counted until election day, he believes the unofficial results won’t be fully available until a day or two after November 3.

Here are Milwaukee’s early voting sites:

Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building: 841 N. Broadway, Room 102
Midtown Center: N. 58th Street & W Capitol Drive
Zablocki Library: 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Bay View Library: 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Cannon Park Pavilion: 303 N. 95th St.
Clinton Rose Senior Center: 3045 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.
East Library: 2320 N. Cramer St.
Good Hope Library: 7717 W. Good Hope Rd.
Mitchell Street Library: 906 W. Historic Mitchell St.
Tippecanoe Library: 3912 S. Howell Ave.
Villard Square Library: 5190 N. 35th St.
Washington Park Library: 2121 N. Sherman Blvd.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee Area Technical College: 1101 N. 6th St.

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