Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway beat four other Wisconsin mayors to a competition to see who could get the highest percentage of registered voters to submit absentee ballots at 62%. All of the other four cities had more than 49% of registered voters submit absentee ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway beat four other Wisconsin mayors to a competition to see who could get the highest percentage of registered voters to submit absentee ballots at 62%. All of the other four cities had more than 49% of registered voters submit absentee ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Roughly 50% of registered voters have already submitted absentee ballots in the state’s five largest cities.

The mayors of Wisconsin’s five largest cities–Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine– had a competition amongst themselves to see which community could have the highest percentage of registered voters submit absentee ballots ahead of Election Day. 

The results ranged from Milwaukee’s 49% to 62% in Madison. But the biggest winner, as many mayors said, was voters themselves. 

“It’s a great thing for democracy but it’s a great thing for public health as well, minimizing the number of people that have to go to the polling locations on Election Day,” said Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich.

Each city still has absentee ballots that have not yet been returned. Each mayor emphasized it was too late to send via the US Postal Service but to either use drop boxes as soon as possible or drop them off at their polling station on Tuesday before 8 p.m.

For people who do plan to go to the polls Nov. 3, Genrich and the other mayors assured them that they were prepared so voters could cast their ballots safely and know they were secured.

“Tomorrow is a really sacred day in our democracy,” said Racine Mayor Cory Mason. “It’s really an awe-inspiring thing to be a part of and to figure out how to do that as safely as possible in the midst of the pandemic.”

The five cities collectively applied for and received $6.3 million to help pay for the election through the non-profit Center for Tech and Civic Life, which is funded in part by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. A conservative group filed a lawsuit in an attempt to bar the cities from receiving those funds, but U.S. District Judge William Griesbach denied that motion and ruled that their lawsuit was unlikely to succeed. 

Those funds helped pay for increased personal protective equipment for poll workers, plastic partitions to separate voters and poll workers, and hand sanitizer. 

In addition to COVID-19 precautions, several said they’d been working with law enforcement and poll workers to prepare for any potential voter intimidation.

“The poll workers themselves know what they’re supposed to do, how to de-escalate,” said Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian. “However there’s going to be support for poll workers to make sure everyone is safe.”

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway wanted to make sure that attempts at voter intimidation would not be taken lightly.

“We are prepared to resist any voter intimidation and make sure anyone participating in voter intimidation is prosecuted,” Rhodes-Conway said. 

Overall, the mayors expressed confidence that Nov. 3 was going to run as smoothly as possible, given the circumstances. But they also cautioned that results may not be available Tuesday night. Genrich said that regardless of whether people voted absentee, in-person or through the mail, or decided to wait until Election Day, “those ballots are equally valid.” 

“And it’s important that we take the time to count them,” he said.