Delay the April 7 election; keep voters and poll workers safe

Voces de la Frontera      1027 S. 5th St., Milwaukee WI 53204-1734

PRESS RELEASE – MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020 

Milwaukee, Wis. –

Six community leaders in Milwaukee today called on Gov. Tony Evers to postpone the April 7 statewide election.

The ongoing public health crisis would interfere so much that conducting the election as scheduled would deprive many thousands of people of the chance to vote in person.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, the leading immigrant rights organization in Wisconsin, noted there are over 150,000 Latino eligible voters in Wisconsin. She said: “Most Latinx voters rely on same day voter registration to cast their ballot. A decision to go ahead with this election will discourage people from voting and put them at risk of infection if they do vote in person.”

Sandy Pasch, a nurse and former legislator, said: “How can we maintain social distancing when we’re in line for voting? How can we ethically justify the harm to poll workers, voters and their families? We must delay this election.”

Debra Cronmiller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said: “One million people would be expected to vote in person. Ensuring that the election is by absentee voting is the safest option. And in the next two weeks before the election, the incoming volume of requests for absentee ballots will be so great that even with extended staffs, the time required to process the requests is greater than the two weeks we have.”

Reverend Gregory Lewis, of Souls to the Polls, said that “churches are closed and they play a big role in getting out the vote. And if public health officials say we have to stay home, how can we go out and vote? People will have to choose between the right to vote and their own safety.”

Thomas Kalluvila, a public health expert, said that “the only choice is prevention. In person voting would violate all public health recommendations.”

Attorney William Sulton, Legal Redress Chair of the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP, said his organization recommends an all-mail vote on for June 2. “Mail ballots to every registered voter and mail to every eligible voter about how to register. The safest way is mail voting.”

Speakers also emphasized that any planning for a revised election schedule must include representatives of hard-to-reach communities, especially Latino and African-American. Too many people in these communities “are not comfortable with the technology needed to register online or request a ballot. Some working class families do not have access to smartphones or computers or Wi-Fi. Going to libraries is no longer an option, since the City has closed those early-voting sites.”

Attorney Rich Saks noted that all incumbent officials could legally continue in their positions until an election is held. Such de-facto officials would ensure no gap in coverage, if an incumbent’s term was scheduled to end before the election. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld this position, Saks said.

 

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For more information, contact Jack Norman, Interim Communications Director for Voces de la Frontera. communications@vdlf.org  or 414 405-6210

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