Wisconsin’s Third Pandemic Election Is Going Pretty Smoothly

Wisconsin election poll workers



By Jonathon Sadowski

August 11, 2020

No lines in sight as voters cast ballots quickly and with ease.

Wisconsin voters on Tuesday once again visited polls in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, but this time things went a little more smoothly than the calamitous April 7 partisan primary and state Supreme Court election.

With more time to plan, polling places were not condensed as severely and it appears as though voting has largely gone off without a hitch, including in Milwaukee and Green Bay, where lines took hours to get through on April 7. While more polling stations are open in Milwaukee and Green Bay, a massive influx in absentee voting no doubt contributed to easier voting.

“I was really curious what it would be like when we have an ample number of voting polls open,” said Charles Robinson, a 71-year-old semi-retired adjunct professor and mediator from Milwaukee. 

Wisconsin's Third Pandemic Election Is Going Pretty Smoothly
Charles Robinson, a 71-year-old semi-retiree, holds up the pen he got from voting Tuesday morning at Washington High School in Milwaukee. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

Robinson voted in-person at Washington High School in Milwaukee, which on April 7 had a line stretching around the block. On Tuesday, there was no wait whatsoever. Robinson said he was pleased the safety precautions taken — clean pens for every voter, barriers between poll workers and voters, and mask use. 

“In fact, when I used the pen they supplied, I was going to leave it back on the table,” Robisnon said. “They said, ‘No, no. Take it — it’s yours forever.’”

That pen served as Robinson’s election-day souvenir, because there weren’t any “I Voted” stickers.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission decided in July that masks would not be required for voters in order to not infringe upon people’s right to vote if they did not have one. Masks were, however, strongly encouraged. Poll workers were required to wear masks.

Wisconsin's Third Pandemic Election Is Going Pretty Smoothly
Jessica Roidt sanitizes the voting booths at the polling location inside the Hy-Vee grocery store on Madison’s east side Tuesday. (Photo © Andy Manis)

“We are not going to turn someone away for not wearing a mask,” said Rudy Moore, the chief election inspector at Wil-Mar Community Center on Madison’s East Side. “We want everybody to have the chance to vote.”

Also in Madison, election volunteer LaShana Miller sat outside the Hy-Vee grocery store on East Washington Street. Tuesday was her second time volunteering to help out on election day since moving to the city from Chicago. 

Miller said she voted in person, with no concerns for her safety.

“I decided today is the day I needed to vote,” Miller said. 

Back in Milwaukee, pastors Rodney and Serita Campbell took their son, Caleb, to vote, just as they did in April. This time, they were at their normal polling place — Indigenous Peoples Park on the North Side. In April, they had to cast ballots at Marshall High School about a mile away. It was one of just five polling locations open for the city of 600,000.

“April sort of shook a lot of people up, and I’m glad to see that the polling booths are back open in our communities,” Rodney Campbell said.

Wisconsin's Third Pandemic Election Is Going Pretty Smoothly
There are no long lines Tuesday Riverside High School in Milwaukee, until for the April 7 election. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

Serita Campbell said it was important to the couple that they vote in person because they feared their ballot would be lost in the mail. Thousands of ballots got tied up in the mail in April as the Postal Service was inundated with mailings, and many never reached their final destination. 

“I wanted to make sure that I got in and voted and my vote actually counted,” Serita Campbell said.

Ermitte Saint Jacques, a professor of African and Diaspora Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said voting in-person on Tuesday carried a special meaning to her. She voted absentee in April but made the trip to honor the late U.S. Rep. and civil rights leader John Lewis of Georgia, who died last month.

“Thinking about the memory of John Lewis and the struggle and what’s going on right now with Black Lives Matter, I think it’s imperative that we all vote and use our constitutional right to vote,” Saint Jacques said. “That’s what we’ve been fighting for and continue to fight for, because there are a lot of people that have been disenfranchised. For me, it’s very important, it’s very personal as a Black woman.”




Local News

Related Stories
Share This