Evers on spring election: ‘Stay at home, vote by mail’

NOW: Evers on spring election: ‘Stay at home, vote by mail’

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Despite growing calls for a postponement of the spring election because of concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Tony Evers said Monday the plan is to move forward with the current date.

The election is April 7 and includes the presidential primary, state Supreme Court race as well as the mayoral and county executive contests in the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, respectively.

In a video teleconference, leaders from various civil rights groups including the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP, Voces de la Frontera and the League of Women Voters called on the governor to push back the date of the election of find alternatives to in-person voting, citing concerns about safety for voters and poll workers. The conference followed the closing of in-person early voting sites in the City of Milwaukee on Sunday.

“How in heaven’s name can we possibly conduct a safe and meaningful election in [the state’s] 6,690 wards, when we can’t even do so in just three in the City of Milwaukee?” said attorney Richard Saks during the video teleconference.

Others said the risk puts some voters in a difficult position.

Our community will be forced to decide between their right to vote and their own safety,” said Rev. Gregory Lewis of Souls to the Polls. “Once again, our right to vote will lose.”

The sentiment was echoed by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a separate teleconference.

“We have to have a dramatic change to make sure people’s right to vote can be exercised in a safe way,” Barrett said. “Whether it’s all mail-in balloting, whether it’s a new date, this issue is going to explode, if we do not address this issue and address this issue fast.”

But Governor Evers and other state leaders are moving forward with the original election date.

“The message still is and will be, stay at home, vote by mail,” Evers said in a teleconference.

Evers added that the state is working closely with municipalities to address issues like personal protective equipment for poll workers, polling place changes and potential poll worker shortages.

“That’s part of the analysis that we’re doing with all municipalities and the Election Commission to make sure that […] polling places are safe,” Evers said.

Following a court ruling from over the weekend, online voter registration has resumed and voters can do that and request mail-in ballots at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/.

Also on Monday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission asked younger residents to sign up to be poll workers. Currently, many poll workers are older and likely at-risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus which could lead to significant shortages on Election Day. People interested in becoming a poll worker should contact their municipal clerk and can find that information at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/MyMunicipalClerk

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