Casting your ballot from your car: Drive-up early voting launches in Milwaukee

NOW: Casting your ballot from your car: Drive-up early voting launches in Milwaukee


The city of Milwaukee is launching early voting with a twist.

Voters can now cast their ballots from inside their cars in efforts to eliminate exposure from COVID-19.

The new drive-up model launched Saturday at the Zeidler Municipal Building at 841 N. Broadway. Voters and city officials agree it's unprecedented.

"I do miss the sort of sense of community of voting at a polling place with fellow citizens, and I always go vote, but at least we have the opportunity now to do this safely," said Robert Johnson, who voted Saturday afternoon.

There was a long line of cars Saturday morning. Neil Albrecht, executive director of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission, said the turnout was greater than other cities with similar models have seen.

He said the city will consider adding more staff to accommodate the number of cars.

"It's not a McDonald's drive-thru. There's a more complex process involved. We have to review the photo ID, we have to confirm their registration, we have to issue and collect their ballot. That's not a fast process," Albrecht said.

He recommends voters allow themselves 45 minutes to complete the drive-up process. Many voters said it did not take that long for them.

"Voting is very important, so I definitely wanted to make sure I get it done in case they close the actual Election Day," said voter Mike Johnson.

City officials closed the three indoor early voting locations about a week ago due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. It took them about a week to come up with the drive-up model.

"Everything that goes into that vehicle, when it comes out -- like the clipboard, any pens that are returned to us -- we're sanitizing all of those inside before they're used again with the next vehicle," Albrecht said.

Albrecht said the safest way to vote is still to request an absentee ballot and mail it in, but this is the next best option for those looking to cast their ballot.

Drive-up early voting will be available on both Saturdays and Sundays before the election from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., and Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Early voting will end on Sunday, April 5.

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