Green Bay hires voter navigators to help with election during pandemic
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The City of Green Bay isn’t wasting any time putting grant money received from The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), to use with the hiring of a handful of short-term employees to help residents through the election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four voter navigators will work until the end of the November election to help all eligible voters.
“We are employees of the clerk’s office, so our first and most important responsibility is helping the clerk’s office leading up to the election,” said Caleb Jeffreys, voter navigator.
The city has not only seen an increase in absentee ballot requests, but also the volume of questions about absentee voting in general, Jeffreys said.
“This demonstrates that the community has a need for concise, correct and consistent information,” he said. “While clerk’s office employees are busy with the most important aspects of our election, we voter navigators help (residents) in any way they require.”
Another major aspect of the position, Jeffreys said, is increasing community engagement, a goal of Mayor Eric Genrich.
“We will be creating events around voter education and engagement,” Jeffreys said. “We are connecting with community groups, religious organizations, NWTC, UWGB and high schools so we can get information to everyone eligible to vote.”
Jeffreys said the team has already worked on coordinating events, with information being released soon.
“We want everybody to know that we’re here to help, if they see us out and about in the community,” he said.
Jeffreys said COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of society and civil institutions, which highlights the need for these individuals helping voters.
“Those disruptions bring with them a host of issues that must be addressed through trusted means and creative ways,” he said.
Voter navigators are also tasked with calming the community’s anxiety regarding the upcoming election.
“Our job is to help community members feel confident in voting, and to educate them on how to vote in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.
This is the first time the city has filled this type of position.
“In past elections, the city has employed poll workers, but this year is different because of COVID-19,” Jeffreys said. “The grant from CTCL pays for limited-term employees, equipment, public relations and increased salaries for poll workers. The grant helps the city manage this unprecedented election.”
For specific questions about the elections, or changes due to COVID-19, residents may call the clerk’s office at 920-448-3010. General questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.