By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
There’s been no shortage of updates and changes this past week in regards to nearly everything, but despite all that, one previously scheduled event remains the same and that is the Spring General Election.
The election is still set to take place on Tuesday, April 7. To be clear, the official date of the election remains the same, but voting isn’t necessarily taking place in the traditional sense. Here’s what you need to know.
On Thursday, April 2, U.S. District Judge William Conley extended the election. Now, voters can request an absentee ballot by mail until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3. Election ballots must be returned by 4 p.m. on Monday, April 13, according to AP News.
Ballots can be requested at MyVote.WI.gov. To request a ballot a voter must have a valid photo ID and be registered.
Earlier this week, Neil Albrecht, the executive director for the Elections Commission, held a press conference regarding voting and the closure of early voting sites.
“It was a difficult decision to close down early voting sites, but it was placing voters and election workers at risk of COVID-19,” he said.
However, Albrecht said Milwaukee residents still have some options when it comes to early voting and absentee voting.
The City of Milwaukee is offering drive-up early voting at the Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N. Broadway. Drive through voting is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5.
The line begins on southbound Broadway between State Street and Kilbourn Avenue. Albrecht said the wait is close to 45 minutes.
Absentee ballots can also be dropped off at one of the following locations every day between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. These locations include the Zablocki Library, 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave., the Bay View Library, 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., the Washington Park Library, 2121 N. Sherman Blvd., the Mill Road Library, 6431 N. 76th St. and the Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N. Broadway.
Albrecht said that the commission receives about 5,000 to 6,000 requests a day for an absentee ballot. He compared this number to the 2016 presidential election when only 15,000 votes were cast absentee. So far, over 70,000 absentee ballots have been issued and that number is expected to reach anywhere between 90,000 to 100,000.
Some voting sites may remain open, but that is subject to change. Typically, there are 180 sites but that number may be reduced to anywhere under 10-12.
The Elections Commission was also looking for a space at about 80,000 square feet to safely and properly process the ballots. Albrecht said given the high number of absentee ballots it is most likely going to take multiple days to process all of them.
When it comes to voting, people tend to focus on the challenges rather than just doing it. This spring is providing more challenges than normal, but it’s all the more reason to vote.
To request an absentee ballot by mail, go to myvote.wi.gov. Ballots can be requested until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3 and must be returned by 4 p.m. on Monday, April 13.