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Gov. Evers, clerks stress absentee voting

By Ben Rodgers

BROWN COUNTY – With concerns growing over COVID-19, Gov. Tony Evers stressed people should prepare to vote via absentee ballot for the April 7 election.

Evers addressed the issue during a COVID-19 media briefing Monday, March 23.

“The message has and will be, stay at home, vote by mail,” Evers said.

He directed voters to myvote.wi.gov to register first and request an absentee ballot second.

“I continue to urge all eligible voters to get an absentee ballot through myvote.wi.gov, I encourage that,” Evers said. “My wife and I just did that other day. It’s very easy. If we can do it, you can do it.”

Local clerks want to remind voters the deadlines to register and request an absentee ballot have been extended.

The Wisconsin Election Commission has now given voters until March 30 to register online or by mail and until April 2 to request an absentee ballot in the mail.

“It is extremely important,” said Mary Smith, Hobart clerk. “Not only it will protect the voter, but it also will protect our workers. The election is very important. We have to be there, but at what cost?”

Hobart has one polling location for about 4,500 registered voters.

Smith said as of Monday, March 23, the village received requests for more than 1,200 absentee ballots.

“Voters should go to myvote.wi.gov, ask for an absentee ballot, have it mailed to them so they can vote and get it in so it counts,” she said. “…There’s no reason to put yourself in harm’s way.”

The Village of Ashwaubenon encouraged voters via social media to register early and online.

Clerk Patrick Moynihan Jr. said the village has six polling places, and as of Monday, more than 10,000 registered voters.

He said one concern is election workers, and currently more are needed.

“They take the approach it’s no different than going to the grocery store or gassing up your vehicle,” Moynihan said. “It’s almost inevitable you’ll come into contact with people. They’ll be outfitted with gloves and masks, sanitizers and whatever they want to utilize. Obviously, I care for their welfare, but it’s down to who’s comfortable working the election because some folks have ongoing health issues, which makes them susceptible to contracting something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be coronavirus, it could be the flu, too.”

Moynihan said anyone who wants to volunteer to work the polls can contact him at [email protected].

In Suamico, with two polling places for now, Clerk Bonnie Swan said election volunteers are down as well.

“We have had them bow out,” Swan said. “Until it gets closer to the election, we’re going to figure out how to run with fewer poll workers. I have no more to call, I don’t have any more available, we talked about going to village staff and training them.”

The Village of Suamico is also limiting the hours for in-person early voting.

Through April 3, it will be open for early voting from 1-3 p.m.   

She said to lessen the load, more people need to vote absentee.

“I’m hoping we’ll get the largest percentage of people to do it by absentee,” Swan said. “That will help tremendously.”

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