MILWAUKEE — Nearly one week from Election Day, U.S. Postal Service and Milwaukee Election Commission officials discussed the steps they’re taking to ensure all ballots are protected and delivered on time.
This comes amid a lack of trust from some voters about the mail system, especially after the U.S. postmaster restricted employee overtime and dismantled some sorting machines this summer. Those decisions were later reversed.
Stan Franke of USPS said they’re doing all they can to get all ballots to the Milwaukee Election Commission by the 8 p.m. deadline on Election Day.
“We’re very confident in our ability to be able to process those ballots,” Franke said. “We are taking extraordinary measures you know obviously leading up this week up to the day of the election, to get as many ballots home as possible.”
He addressed Milwaukee alders at Monday’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee along with Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg.
During the April primary, there were a number of issues, including reports of voters not receiving their absentee ballots.
Woodall-Vogg said this cycle they improved communication between the agencies so the things run as smooth as possible. Franke said that’s exactly what’s happened so far for the November general election.
“We’ve got a really good process in place. We haven’t had any you know real issues that I’m aware of at this point,” Franke said.
To increase efficiency they added bar-codes on absentee ballots to help voters track where they are in the mail stream.
“We have had much fewer phone calls of voters saying they never received their ballot and just based on the volume of calls it has shown great improvement,” Woodall-Vogg said.
To protect those ballots as they wait to count them on Election Day, the city has 24-hour surveillance and officers securing the building that stores the ballots.
It’s an important step as the state sees unprecedented numbers of people voting early.
“We’ve processed more absentee ballots through the postal service than I can recall throughout the State of Wisconsin, and I’m sure that includes Milwaukee as well,” Franke said.
Even though the deadline is 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, Franke said their goal is to have all ballots delivered to the commission by 1 p.m. on Election Day.
Woodall-Vogg said that after the ballot deadline on Nov. 3 they plan to have a livestream online as they count ballots to increase transparency and dispel misinformation.