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Mayor Barrett requests mail-only ballots for April 7 spring election

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Posted at 9:05 AM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 10:05:35-04

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is requesting that the April 7 spring election consist of mail-only ballots, in place of in-person absentee and in-person voting.

Barrett sent a letter to Gov. Tony Evers, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. Robin Voss Monday with the request in order to comply with the standards set during the spread of COVID-19 in the state of Wisconsin.

"Under the present circumstances, in-person voting, particularly with lines of people, is simply not safe, feasible, or responsible," said Barrett in the letter. "In good conscience I would not ask one of my loved ones to sit in a room for hours greeting dozens of people during this pandemic. I can't expect citizens of my city to do that either."

The Elections Commission for the City of Milwaukee continues to lose staff daily due to coronavirus, and can no longer operate the three in-person early voting locations in the city. The same rings true for election workers who are staying home to comply with state and local 'Stay at Home' orders.

The Commission has also already been forced to relocate 15 voting sites, and still needs to address 10 more.

As part of the request, Barrett recommended photo ID requirements be waived altogether for registered voters, as some voters may not have the ability to upload their ID with a cellphone, or through the internet.

The mayor says he realizes that the shift to mail-only ballots would mean the election would take more time, and could not be completed by April 7.

"Timing is of the essence. Every day spent preparing for in-person voting is a lost opportunity for municipalities to retool their election systems and regain traction with meeting the already heavy demands for absentee ballots," said Barrett. "Like all of you I have hoped that this step would not be necessary. Unfortunately it is."

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