By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
In America, being able to vote is a citizen’s right. In order to grant the opportunity to more citizens to cast their ballot and have their voice heard, the city of Milwaukee is adding three new early voting sites. This announcement was made Wednesday, November 15, 2017, during a press conference in City Hall.
The addition of these sites is being paid for by the City of Milwaukee’s 2018 Budget, which was recently discussed during the Common Council meetings. Alderman Ashanti Hamilton and Alderman Jose Perez were among some of the aldermen and alderwomen who approved the additional sites during the budget meeting.
Milwaukee residents now have the opportunity to frequent one of the eight sites to cast their ballot for the next election. Through the use of early voting sites, residents who are unable to vote on Election Day due to work or other commitments can still make sure their voices are heard.
Wisconsin Voices is a nonprofit organization which works with State Voices according to their website. Part of the group’s goal is to ensure that all eligible voters in the state of Wisconsin have the opportunity to cast their vote. They along with the coalition group, Our Democracy 2020, are strong advocates for the new early voting sites.
Part of their work includes educating citizens, fighting against gerrymandering and making sure everybody can vote.
Program Manager of Wisconsin Voices, Shauntay Nelson spoke during the press conference today.
Nelson mentioned that during last year’s election Madison had 18 early voting sites, and as a result saw an increase in their voting numbers. Milwaukee was thus encouraged to open more voting sites in the hopes to likewise increase their numbers.
Through early voting, Nelson said, Madison saw one thousand people voted a day.
In Milwaukee, “We do what we need to do to get the word out,” she said.
In the 2016 Election, Nelson commented that midtown was on the places with an early voting site in Milwaukee.
This came about due to the federal court case of One Wisconsin Institute v. Thomsen. During 2016, the case examined legislation made under Governor Scott Walker which controlled the number of hours permitted for early voting according to One Wisconsin Now’s website. The results of the case led to more in-person absentee voting and the addition of two more early voting sites. Prior to this, there had been only one early voting site in Milwaukee.
When asked if Milwaukee is planning to add more early voting sites in the future Nelson responded, “My hope is yes.”
According to Nelson, if the numbers are there in 2018 then the possibility is there. In other words, Wisconsin Voices urges people to vote because of the better the turnout the more opportunity for early voting sites, absentee ballots and a greater number of voters overall.
Although the locations of the new voting sites haven’t been selected yet, voters can be expected to learn more information beforehand. The next election will take place in 2018. In the meantime, eligible voters are encouraged to educate themselves and utilize the tools being offered.