Live Election Coverage: Wisconsin called for Biden
28% of Madison’s early in-person votes came from polling places on the UW-Madison campus. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)
This Examiner’s live 2020 election blog, with reports from around the state
11 months ago
All’s quiet on the Badger front as election winds down
Despite concerns that voter intimidation at the polls might occur on Nov. 3, Election Day in Milwaukee County, and throughout the state, was rather tame. For the most part, polling sites in the City of Milwaukee saw an underwhelming level of in-person turnout, largely due to a high number of ballots cast early.
Nevertheless, things weren’t completely problem free. In the City of West Allis, long lines formed outside of City Hall and other polling locations. Wait times at some locations stretched beyond an hour or more, and lines wound around blocks leading up to when the polling site officially closed at 8 p.m.
Outside the West Allis Rec Center, a polling site, a resident parked a large pick up truck on his or her lawn with Trump flags. Just three houses away from, and in full view of, the polling site, which some residents said they felt was intimidating to voters, despite being legal. At City Hall, a van was parked alongside the waiting line of voters close to the main entrance and the van was covered with graphic anti-abortion pictures and statements. Voters in line had to stand in close view of the truck as they waited for the line to inch forward. The video above showcases these circumstances.
All in all, however, people’s worst fears weren’t realized. Militias weren’t sighted, nor were armed men or women standing outside polling sites watching voters as they passed. No fights, and no major incidents were reported by both the Milwaukee and Wauwatosa Police departments. The West Allis Police Department, however, did not respond to the Wisconsin Examiner’s request for comment regarding potentially triggering situations described above at polling places.
11 months ago
AP calls Wisconsin for Biden
The AP called Wisconsin for Joe Biden on Wednesday after election officials in the state said all outstanding ballots had been counted, except for a few hundred remaining from the tiny township of Willow and a small number of provisional ballots which voters have until Friday to complete.
11 months ago
WEC counters Trump misinformation as campaign signals a recount
As President Donald Trump and his campaign spent Wednesday morning baselessly claiming election fraud and signaling a recount would be requested in Wisconsin, the state’s chief election official said Wisconsin’s election had been run meticulously and by the book.
Overnight, as municipalities across the state finished counting a record number of absentee ballots, the vote totals shifted from Trump to Biden. Trump, who has spent the last several months attacking the vote-by-mail process, attempted to claim that the late-breaking ballots were illegal.
“I think that it’s insulting to our local election officials to say that yesterday’s election was anything but an incredible success,” Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said in response to Trump’s baseless claims. “That was the result of years of preparation and meticulously, carefully following the law.”
After votes from Green Bay and Milwaukee that were counted in the early morning went for Biden, the former vice president took a narrow lead in the state.
Early Wednesday afternoon the Trump campaign announced it would be requesting a recount in Wisconsin as the margin stood at slightly more than 20,000 votes in the state.
“Despite ridiculous public polling used as a voter suppression tactic, Wisconsin has been a razor thin race as we always knew that it would be,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said. “There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results. The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so.”
In Wisconsin, presidential candidates within one percentage point can request a recount.
Though Trump is within that margin, a 20,000 vote difference is unlikely to be changed by a recount.
Chairman of Trump’s Wisconsin campaign and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tweeted it’s unlikely a recount would change Trump’s fortunes in the state.
“If it holds, 20,000 is a high hurdle,” Walker said. “After recount in 2011 race for WI Supreme Court, there was a swing of 300 votes. After recount in 2016 Presidential race in WI, [Trump’s] numbers went up by 131.”
The campaign’s announcement that it would seek a cited “irregularities” in the ballots.
Wisconsin election officials keep a careful paper trail of all ballots and absentee ballots are not accepted unless they meet all requirements.
The campaign’s request is at this point only symbolic as state law lays out the specific timeline by which aggrieved candidates can order a recount. A campaign cannot file a petition for a recount until counties complete their boards of canvass.
After that clock starts, the campaign has until one business day after the last county sends its certified results to the WEC to request the recount.
Municipal boards of canvass will meet Wednesday before the certification process will then move to the county level.
The Trump campaign will also need to pay for the recount if it is unsuccessful and Biden’s margin of victory is greater than 0.25%.
Last updated: 12:55 pm
11 months ago
Kind’s close call
Rep. Ron Kind, a Democrat who has held a Wisconsin western district seat since 1996 and a top Republican target this year, claimed victory around 5:30 a.m. However, the race has not been officially called. Kind leads Republican Derrick Van Orden by more than 11,000 votes with 99.3% of the vote tallied. That put him just under a 3-point margin, which according to WisPolitics is his most slim margin of victory in 24 years in Congress. He holds a seat President Donald Trump won by more than four points in 2016.
In a statement, Kind said: “I want to thank the people of this district for sending me back to Washington. I know firsthand the challenges working families in Wisconsin face, and I am committed to fighting for the farmers, veterans, families, businesses, and workers who move our state forward.”
The only change in the Wisconsin House delegation will be the 5th Congressional District where state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) easily won his race to fill the spot of retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.
It’s been the honor of my life to represent the area where I was born and raised and where Tawni and I have raised our family. To that end, I want to thank the people of this district for sending me back to Washington. pic.twitter.com/ZeSDZTBtgr
— Ron Kind (@KindforCongress) November 4, 2020
Last updated: 10:10 am
11 months ago
What we know so far . . .
Despite all the warnings that we might not have election results for days, voters impatiently watched for updates, waiting to hear whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden would win in Wisconsin and other battleground states that will ultimately make all the difference.
Election night followed an eerily familiar pattern, with early optimism from the Biden campaign about flipping red states melting into a close watch of the “blue wall” in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
But despite Trump’s premature declaration of victory (which he foreshadowed for weeks before the election), votes are being counted and Biden is up here and in other key states.
Meagan Wolfe of the Wisconsin Elections Commission has repeatedly warned that voters will need to be patient. Vote-counting will go on for some time.
Here’s what we know so far:
- Wisconsin will, once again, be critical to the outcome of the presidential election. Along with Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the Badger State’s presidential election had not yet been called by early Wednesday morning. Whoever wins four of those states (or the biggest electoral prizes among them — Pennsylvania or Georgia — plus another state) will win the election.
- With 97% of the vote counted, Biden was ahead by a slim margin on Wednesday of 20,748 votes — close to the margin by which Trump won the state in 2016, when he out-polled Hillary Clinton by a mere 22,748 votes. As it stands, Biden’s lead is within the 1% margin that allows a second-place finisher to request a recount.
- Turnout was historic, breaking the 3 million mark set in 2012. In Dane County, 82.4% of eligible voters cast ballots
- Absentee ballots from Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Green Bay gave Biden his Wednesday-morning edge. Only two of Wisconsin’s 3,689 precincts had not yet reported according to the Associated Press, with vote totals still out in Pierce County. and Richland County.
- Wisconsin Elections Commission chief Meagan Wolfe issued the following statement at 7:45 a.m.: “Wisconsin’s counting and reporting of unofficial results has gone according to law. Our municipal and county clerks have worked tirelessly throughout the night to make sure every valid ballot is counted and reported accurately. Those unofficial results are available on the county clerks’ websites. Today, the Wisconsin Elections Commission staff will be standing ready to assist clerks as they start the process of triple-checking the results. This includes randomly selecting 5% of reporting units for voting equipment audits which must occur before results are certified as required by law on December 1.”
- Stay tuned for updates on our blog.
Last updated: 9:28 am
11 months ago
Wisconsin Legislature shifts but Republicans lose hope of a veto-proof majority
Post Election Day morning brings some clarity and more questions on the balance of power in the state Legislature — much as it does in races across the nation. And there were certainly no coattails to a clear legislative victory. In fact, after every last vote is counted, it appears some recounts may be likely.
But the most important battle to both Democratic and Republican partisans was the veto-proof majority needed to override actions by Gov. Tony Evers, which is out of reach for Republicans in the Assembly. A veto-proof majority would have allowed Republicans to redraw the redistricting maps — as they did a decade ago — without the governor. The last redistricting, considered one of the most gerrymandered in the country, was approved by then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican.
If vote totals hold, it appears that Republicans have picked up two seats in the state Senate and lost two seats in the state Assembly. The areas of shifting power in favor of Democrats were in the Milwaukee suburbs, while Sen. Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset) lost by a wide margin in her predominantly rural northwestern Wisconsin district.
11 months ago
Fitzgerald to leave state Senate
In news that will surprise few, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has won his race to replace veteran Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. The race was called for him by AP at 9:14 pm, beating Democrat Tom Palzewicz.
“This year brought some unprecedented challenges, and I’m proud that we ran a positive, aggressive campaign amid the current crisis facing our nation,” said Fitzgerald in a statement. “Despite these challenges, we ran a campaign centered around the issues that the voters of Wisconsin’s Fifth care about: keeping Wisconsin families safe, rebuilding our local economy, and protecting our Wisconsin values.”
The big question for the Wisconsin Senate is who will replace him in leadership.
Wisconsin’s eight congressional seats are securely gerrymandered by Republicans into five seats for Republicans and three for Democrats, with the closest to a competitive seat being the western Wisconsin seat held by Democratic Rep. Ron Kind. That seat has not been called.
AP called the race early for Rep. Gwen Moore in Milwaukee when she hit 76% of the vote (against a Republican and an independent challengers). It will be her 9th term representing the Milwaukee area in Congress.
Last updated: 10:11 pm
11 months ago
WEC urges calm and patience in final Election Day briefing
Nearly two hours after polls closed as results in down-ballot races started to come in, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe urged patience while officials count the votes.
Results are not expected until the early hours of Wednesday morning in many parts of the state.
“While voters were casting their in-person ballots, poll workers counted absentees throughout the day.” Wolfe said in a media briefing. “That process continues tonight, until every ballot is counted. There’s no cutoff or deadline to finish counting. They must keep counting until the job is done. So be patient.”
With all polls closed, Wolfe said voting on Election Day went smoothly without reports of major problems or voter intimidation anywhere.
“There continued to be no substantiated or any sort of threats against our polling places throughout today, or into the evening as well,” she said. “We continue to have regular meetings with our partners in law enforcement and the intelligence community and we’re not aware of any existing threats against any of our polling places.”
Throughout the night, all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties will begin to post results online. Wolfe reminded voters that these are unofficial results, especially in the state’s 39 municipalities that use a central count facility to tally absentee ballots.
All of this means it will be a long night before all the results are known in Wisconsin.
“I cannot recall an election in my nine years with elections where I have gone home before midnight,” Wolfe said.
Last updated: 9:53 pm
11 months ago
Lines long in West Allis as Milwaukee County results flow in
At 8 p.m, the Milwaukee County Clerk’s website posted it’s first update on the vote count. Of the 478 wards, 248 have been counted, and turnout has been calculated at 278,653 of the county’s 551,364 registered voters.
By 8:56 p.m, those numbers read 382 of th 478 wards counted, and over 433,000 of the county’s registered voters having turned out. Still, the many people remain at the polls. Particularly in the City of West Allis, which is part of Milwaukee County.
At West Allis City Hall, one of the area’s polling places, the line stretched around the entire block. When doors opened at 7 a.m., the line had already reached to the corner. It took about an hour for the first voters to make their way through the line, cast their ballots, and be on their way.
City Hall closed as a polling place at 8 p.m., but people were still waiting outside to cast their votes. It will take until early morning on Wednesday to count the votes in Milwaukee.
11 months ago
WEC reports smooth process three hours before polls close
As time runs out on Election Day 2020, Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said there had been “no red flags” for municipalities counting a record number of absentee ballots; the day was largely going smoothly across the state.
Wolfe also addressed two issues that could affect the vote tally — a ballot misprint in Outagamie and Calumet counties and a court ruling ordering the sweep of postal service offices in a district that includes Wisconsin.
Wolfe said that she’d been in contact with clerks in Outagamie County all day and they seemed to be handling the reconstruction of ballots well.
The ruling by a U.S. District Court judge ordered a sweep of 12 postal districts that serve 15 states, including Wisconsin’s Lakeland District, which encompasses most of Wisconsin and portions of northern Illinois. The sweep is to be conducted by USPS postal inspectors to find ballots that may have been lost in postal processing facilities.
Wolfe said that the WEC was not a party to the court case and not involved with USPS operations but postal officials in Wisconsin were already planning to do these sweeps ahead of 8 p.m. to ensure all ballots are returned.
After a potential poll worker shortage loomed ahead of the election, Wolfe reported that most municipalities had not needed to dip into the reserve pool of more than 200 Wisconsin National Guard members.
With less than three hours remaining before the close of polls, Wolfe also had some last reminders for voters. Voters who are in line at 8 p.m. should remain in line because they will still get a chance to vote. For voters who want to return an absentee ballot, they should check MyVote.WI.gov to get local information on where to take that ballot.
Wolfe also cautioned voters to exercise patience as results start to come in from across the state, saying it does not signify a problem if it takes longer to count ballots and that results on election night are never official.
“Just a reminder, that if unofficial results aren’t available until morning, it does not mean that something went wrong,” Wolfe said. “It simply means that election officials are doing their jobs, and our job as election officials is to make sure that we get it right to make sure that every ballot gets counted. And so just, I think, a very important reminder, as we head into that tonight, that our election inspectors, they’re going to continue to value accuracy over speed.”
Polls close at 8 p.m.
Last updated: 8:32 pm
11 months ago
Where climate change fits into the election
“We’re seeing a huge increase in younger voters coming out below the age of 30, possibly setting a historic record,” Sen. Chris Larson tells Wisconsin Examiner. “And one of their biggest issues is being able to meaningfully address climate change.”
Climate change is something young voters care about and it’s also something rural Wisconsinites, who may normally vote Republican, must increasingly contend with, Larson points out — particularly Wisconsin’s farming communities, which were already struggling.
“They’ve been dealing with floods, continuous floods, for the last few years,” said Larson. “There’s only so many 100-year floods you can get hit with before you start thinking, ‘What the heck is going on? How is this going to be addressed?'”
Wisconsin’s struggles with climate change may not draw media attention like the wildfires in the West, or increasingly powerful hurricanes in the South and East Coast. Nevertheless, climate change is taking a toll, and is impossible to ignore. From erosion along the Great Lakes to record flooding, unusual cold snaps, and other effects, climate change affects agriculture, real estate, and other industries.
The election may change things, since Joe Biden has a much more climate-conscious platform than his opponent. President Donald Trump has characterized his administration as pro-business, and against environmental regulation. Among his first moves as president was to withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Accord. Larson sees a change in government as a way forward.
“We have so much to gain because we are so far behind on clean energy,” says Larson, noting how a Green New Deal could positively affect Wisconsin. “Wisconsin has a lot to gain because we don’t export any energy. Everything is imported, we don’t have crude oil or natural gas. So everything is imported to the tune of $10 billion a year that just leaves the state. The more we shift to renewable energy, the more it re-circulates in the economy.”
He adds, “if there is an investment in clean energy jobs, that’s something that would be a huge boon for Wisconsin.” Four Badger State cities have signed an agreement which re-commits local municipalities to the goals of the Paris accords. They include the cities of Racine, Glendale, Madison, and Milwaukee. Milwaukee also joined 13 other U.S. cities which re-published the climate information which was removed from federal websites by the Trump Administration.
11 months ago
11 months ago
ER nurse campaigns to get out the vote
At the intersection of health care and worker rights, Kate Walton has been spending virtually every free waking hour phone-banking for the 2020 election — work that continued right through Tuesday as voters went to the polls.
Walton, an emergency room nurse, has been watching in vexation as the state Legislature has not only not met in nearly seven months to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, but as Republican lawmakers have undermined the steps that Gov. Tony Evers and his administration have taken to combat the coronavirus.
In phone calls, “the main message I’m sharing as a nurse with voters is that I really feel our current government, both on the state and national level, has failed,” Walton says. “We’re out here doing our jobs and they’re not even going to work. So it’s time for a change. It’s time for new folks in office that’ll actually get things done and get us back on track as far as getting ahead of this pandemic.”
Voters have responded. “There’s a lot of folks out there that are really frustrated, frankly,” Walton says. “And they feel like they’re not being represented well.”
The conversations are also an opportunity to talk about more than just the current campaigns.
“We share stories and share this, that we’re all kind of in the same place,” says Walton, who is part of a drive to gain union recognition for nurses through the Service Employees International Union’s healthcare division. “And also, I can talk with them about exercising our power as voters, not just for this election, but to build a better future and use this as a starting block to keep building.”
11 months ago
All’s quiet in Kenosha as Election Day plays out
After a Nov. 1 visit from President Donald Trump, Jon Jarmon, along with many Kenosha residents, were nervous about how Election Day would turn out. So far, however, as of 3:30 p.m., all appears civil in the area. Nevertheless, activists have continued involving themselves with facilitating a safe election on the ground.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement,” said Jarmon. “I think a lot of people voted early, and got absentee ballots in. But I was at a couple of the polling sites in Kenosha where polls opened at 7 a.m., and specifically at the Lincoln Park location, there was a line that was a couple blocks long of people waiting.”
Jarmon noted that he’s seen a lot of diverse crowds going out to vote in the city. And, despite the anxieties, there he isn’t aware of any instances of voter intimidation.
“We have people that are posted up at locations across Kenosha to make sure that we have people there to de-escalate, you have people there to support voters and all of today it’s been smooth sailing,” said Jarmon. “We haven’t heard of anything so far.”
However, Jarmon has seen some subtle micro-aggressive antics from Trump supporters. “There’s a couple people driving around with their Trump flags,” he said. “People driving around just trying to intimidate people.” Nevertheless, there’s little to no residual impact from Trump’s visit as he sees it.
“I think people realize how important the election is,” said Jarmon. “I think people are just excited. I just hope and pray that we have a good night tonight but, I’m feeling good about where we’re at with everything.”
Last updated: 4:55 pm
11 months ago
Seeking loyalty in the 2020 election
Walking up to Riverside High School, one of the first things you notice is a unassuming man standing on the sidewalk. In his hands he holds a large blue sign shaped like an arrow, signaling where the entrance to the polling place can be found.
Keon, who didn’t want his last name disclosed, had already voted and was spending the rest of the day holding the sign. Looking at the election as it played out, Keon confessed that he wasn’t thrilled about either Joe Biden or Donald Trump, despite leaning towards the latter personally.
“I think they need the truth,” he said when asked what he feels his community needs out of elected officials. “First and foremost. And then we need some loyalty, because there’s no loyalty among the candidates to the people. When they get voted in, their whole agenda changes. They got a whole separate agenda from when they’re getting in, from when they get in.”
Nevertheless, Keon feels that voting is important, regardless of any wounds his faith in the system may have sustained over time. It’s why he stands out on the sidewalk, guiding his fellow citizens into the polling place.
Last updated: 4:51 pm
11 months ago
Turnout, excitement high on UW campuses
The youth vote is expected to be an important factor in the results of the election and on Tuesday voting at UW campuses was high as thousands of young people cast a ballot for the first time.
Many of those votes came through early and absentee voting.
At the Nicholas Recreation Center at UW-Madison, poll workers expected more than 2,000 votes between the three voting wards represented at that location.
Most of the location’s poll workers were students themselves who spent the day processing a large number of absentee ballots. Ward 55, represented at that poll, tallied about 800 absentee ballots on Tuesday.
There were no reported issues at any of the Madison polling locations on campus.
“There have been no problems or major delays at the seven City of Madison polling locations on campus, according to the city clerk,” a news release from UW-Madison communications said. “Many UW–Madison students are among the 6,000 people serving as Madison poll workers today.”
According to UW-Madison, 28% of the 26,223 in-person absentee ballots cast in Madison came from on-campus locations.
In other parts of the state, organizers were making sure students had a plan to vote on Tuesday — if they hadn’t already voted.
“College students were voting early. Lots of the students we talked to already had plans to vote or already had voted early or by mail,” says Lev Pearlman, a field organizer at UW-Platteville and UW-Whitewater for NextGen America. “It’s more efficient and easier than having to go to the polls on the day of.”
Pearlman, who cast his own first presidential ballot this year, says a high turnout among this group in 2020 could mean Gen Z remains a powerful piece of the electorate because voting becomes a habit every cycle.
“Based on my own experience being someone voting for the second time, having voted in 2018 and this year, and speaking to lots of people like that, it’s a habit now,” Pearlman says. “Once you do it once you know how to do it and people are going to see it this year, people want their voices to be heard. They truly understand voting isn’t the only way to do that but it’s the core starting principle.”
Last updated: 4:31 pm
11 months ago
Riverside High School reports smooth polling day
With over 160,000 absentee ballots received, and over 61,000 early votes counted as of Nov. 1, polling places in Milwaukee are not seeing the long lines witnessed during the April primary, when only five of the city’s 180 polling places were open. At Riverside High School, one of the sites which remained open in April, the day has been calm and turnout underwhelming.
Andy Kallies, chief inspector for the Riverside polling site, told Wisconsin Examiner that turnout was “considerably lower this turn around.” By 2:10 p.m., some 310 ballots had been cast at Riverside since the site opened at 7 a.m. Kallies noted that during the April primary, voters from more than 70 wards were funneled into the location. Voters waited in a line that stretched for blocks.
Riverside High School sits near the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee. The area is noted for it’s youthful and diverse population, sitting along the Milwaukee River and not too far from UW-Milwaukee’s campus grounds.
J.P. Swanson, a member of the group Election Protection, stood outside the high school as voters went in and out. “We’re here as a resource for the community,” he said. “We’re handing out personal protective equipment, water, granola bars, just anything people might need on their way to the polls.”
Swanson said the day had been smooth, and there hadn’t been any instances of voter intimidation that he’d seen. “[I] wanted to be part of the process,” said Swanson. “And make sure it’s going smoothly after what happened in April, especially at this polling place.”
He recalled what it was like voting in April, grateful that today wasn’t a repeat of that experience. “We waited for over an hour, it was raining, cold and it was all because we didn’t get our ballots in the mail like we were supposed to. This is a lot better.”
Last updated: 9:29 am
11 months ago
Green County city quickly counts absentees in new polling place
The City of Brodhead in Green (and a tiny bit in Rock) County had to move its polling location from city hall to the fire station to allow for more social distancing but that didn’t stop voters from turning out or poll workers from counting absentees.
By 1:30 p.m., nearly 1,200 votes had been cast and poll workers had counted every received absentee ballot. Before Tuesday, more than 740 absentee ballots had been returned to the city clerk.
That early afternoon turnout almost surpasses the 2016 result when Donald Trump won the city with 56% of the 1,248 votes cast.
Although there are only between 30-40 voters in the Rock County wards of Brodhead, they reach 100% turnout in most elections, one poll worker says.
Jaimie Grossman, an election observer with the Wisconsin Democratic Party from Woodstock, Illinois, says the line in the fire station was long in the morning — when voters lined up ahead of 7 a.m. — but had since been short with voters coming at a steady pace.
“It’s been smooth as butter,” Grossman says.
Luckily, one poll worker says, the fire department hadn’t had to go out on a call while votes were being cast — though there is a contingency plan in case that happens.
Last updated: 8:31 pm
11 months ago
Souls to the Polls continues building an engaged Black voting bloc
The 2020 election for president is critical for Milwaukee’s Black community, says Rev. Greg Lewis of Souls to the Polls, a Milwaukee voter engagement project. But it also is something of a warm-up.
Lewis spoke to the Wisconsin Examiner Tuesday before heading out with a caravan as part of the organization’s final Election Day push to bring out the Black vote.
This year the voters that Souls to the Polls seeks to mobilize have “a lot greater energy,” Lewis says. The organization got its start in the 2018 elections, when Democrats won the governor’s office and other top statewide offices.
But in 2020, many African Americans feel a greater sense of danger from the Trump administration and an urgency to end Donald Trump’s presidency.
When it comes to Trump’s most intense supporters, “people aren’t hiding their feelings any more…and people are really not trying to hide the fact that white supremacy and white privilege is welcomed in their world — and that’s a problem for us, because he’s normalized hate,” says Lewis. “Our community is in critical condition. We’re on life support, we’re on a breathing machine, in intensive care, Code Blue…”
Even if the election does culminate in Trump’s defeat, that isn’t the endgame for Souls to the Polls and the effort to engage Black voters going forward.
“Now people are starting to understand what kind of power we can have, as we’re brought together,” Lewis says. “We hope to really energize that in the future by building this voting bloc, and having people understand the power of voting together.”
11 months ago
Judge orders postal service to sweep for ballots, including in Wisconsin
CNN reports that a federal judge has ordered the United States Postal Service to start sweeping processing facilities by 3 p.m. Eastern Time for possibly stranded ballots and deliver them immediately.
The order from Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia covers 12 postal districts that serve 15 states, including Wisconsin’s Lakeland District, which encompasses most of Wisconsin and portions of northern Illinois. The sweep is to be conducted by USPS postal inspectors. (Numbers of districts and states updated with further reporting.)
Sullivan’s order stated that the sweep was “to ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery.” More details are at CNN, as well as the Washington Post.
Last updated: 2:55 pm
11 months ago
‘Joy to the Polls’ serenades voters, celebrates democracy
With the sun shining and pleasant temperatures, Tuesday was already a good day to vote.
Then Joy to the Polls showed up to serenade people waiting to vote outside Tippacanoe Library in Milwaukee with an electric keyboard. The one-person concert from the back of a flatbed truck added a festive air to the day.
The library was the first stop Tuesday morning for two Milwaukee pastors, Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, of First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, and Rev. Jonah Overton, of Zao MKE Church. Nordstrom and Zao were volunteering as election observers, on hand to help ease tensions or resolve conflicts if any arose on Election Day 2020.
That was only the beginning, Nordstrom says: “The second polling location had a couple of people with a food truck and pizza to the polls, offering to feed people as they went into their polling location.”
11 months ago
Dems raise twice as much money as GOP
The major state parties and four legislative fundraising committees raised $3.3 million from contributions of $1,000 or more in the past two weeks with Democrats raising more than twice as much as Republicans.
Reports filed with the State Ethics Commission showed the state Democratic Party, Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, and the State Senate Democratic Committee raised more than $2.2 million from large contributors between Oct. 21 and Nov. 2.
The state Republican Party, Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, and the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate raised nearly $1.1 million from such contributors between Oct. 23 and Nov. 1, according to the reports.
Here’s a look at how much each entity raised and the top contributors to each in the homestretch to Election Day:
Democratic Party of Wisconsin – $1,239,046. Its top contributors were:
State Senate Democratic Committee, $418,850;
Stacy Herzing, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., a former Herzing University executive, $125,000;
Robert Rubin, New York City, a former U.S. Treasury secretary, and his wife, Judith, $100,000.
Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee – $705,938. Its top contributors were:
Democratic Party of Wisconsin, $450,000;
Hulsen Media Services, LLC, Austin, Texas, $30,000.
State Senate Democratic Committee – $283,740. Its top contributors were:
Plotkin for Senate, $110,240;
Piotrowski for State Senate, $101,000.
Republican Party of Wisconsin – $864,602. Its top contributors were:
Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $410,000;
Robert Greenheck, Weston, Wis., owner of Greenheck Fan Corp., $25,000.
Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $121,600. Its top contributors were:
Born for Assembly, $14,500;
Keith Gilkes, Waunakee, Wis., campaign manager for former GOP Gov. Scott Walker, $12,500.
Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $79,281. Its top contributors were:
Citizens for Tiffany, $15,000;
Friends of Mary (Felzkowski), $15,000.
Previously, total fundraising by the state parties and four legislative campaign committees from Jan. 1 through the last reporting period on Oct. 19 showed Democrats had raised about $21.7 million and Republicans had raised about $10.6 million.
11 months ago
What a difference seven months make
Standing outside of Washington High School, which is in Milwaukee off of Sherman Boulevard and part of the predominately African American North Side, the November Election Day looks a lot different than the April 7 primary. Back then, you would’ve seen very, very, very long lines (see photo) because Washington High School was one of just five polling sites that were allowed to remain open out of 180 usual sites in the City of Milwaukee.
The April primary race created a giant influx of people who were forced to come here right as the pandemic was kicking off to vote in person. This time around Milwaukee has trained well over 2,000 poll workers and has more than 170 polling places open on Election Day. There’s no backlog or lines at Washington High School right now. Some of the election workers inside asked press not to film or photograph voters in a way that could make them identifiable, due to concerns about targeted voter intimidation.
The Wisconsin Examiner has not received or seen any reports of voter intimidation at the Milwaukee polls yet today. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has been reminding Wisconsinites that voter intimidation is a felony in Wisconsin punishable with time behind bars.
The Milwaukee Election Commission has updated voting and ballot counting information on its Votes Count in the 414 website or call them at 414-286-VOTE (414-286-8683).
Last updated: 1:27 pm
11 months ago
In the early hours of Election Day, voter intimidation threats hide their head
In Milwaukee and Madison, several observers reported as of noon on Election Day that there was no evidence of feared attempts at voter intimidation.
Clergy were dispersed around both cities to offer a peaceful presence while preparing for possible disruption. But three who spoke with the Wisconsin Examiner Tuesday said they encountered only peaceful — and for the most part short — lines of voters.
“I was very, very pleased with the way that people were interacting with one another,” says Pastor Valerie Showalter of the Madison Mennonite Church. “There were several voters who commented on how nice it was that there weren’t lines and that they got in and out very quickly. From my observation, it was a good experience for everyone who was there at the time.”
A team coordinating lawyers involved in election protection work around the states also reported no incidents as of noon.
It was a contrast to some of the dire concerns that had been expressed in recent weeks, both because of some incidents elsewhere during early voting and because of veiled threats circulating nationally about potential voter intimidation.
“I don’t expect that here in Milwaukee — at least not in the Black community,” says Rev. Greg Lewis of Souls to the Polls, a Milwaukee project to engage more Black and brown voters. “They may do that in these other communities. But I don’t think that those people are brave enough to come in our community.”
Lewis spent Tuesday morning fielding calls from reporters and had not gotten out yet to polling places. Even so , “we haven’t heard anything,” he says. “And believe me — if that was going on, I would have heard it by now.”
11 months ago
One third of Madison absentee ballots counted by lunch hour
A lunch-hour report from the City of Madison Clerk’s Office: They are making progress on processing the flood of absentee ballots, hitting 33.48% of them already.
That is 31.86% turnout of registered voters so far. The clerk’s office official Tweeter added this editorial commentary: “Happy dance :)” as well as the important reminder for all evening voters who are in line by 8 pm: “Remember: in line by 8, YOU CAN VOTE.” Clearly the Madison election officials are not afraid of counting more votes!
33.48% of absentee ballots have been processed!
31.86% turnout of registered voters so far.
— Madison WI Clerk (@MadisonWIClerk) November 3, 2020
11 months ago
First time voters in Lafayette County
At the Argyle Public Library in rural Lafayette County, Village of Argyle Clerk Sandra Flannery says she had 13 first-time voters register at the polls on Tuesday, many of them older residents.
“These are people who had never voted in their life,” Flannery says. “’Let me help you with that.’”
Flannery says there were at least 17 people in line when she opened the polls at 7 a.m. and there had been a steady rush of voters all morning.
By 10:30 a.m. the village had already seen more than 100 voters cast their ballot. That’s in addition to the 156 absentee ballots in the village.
Before lunch in 2020 the Village of Argyle was already at 72% of its 2016 turnout when 358 people cast a ballot and Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 56 votes.
Flannery says it had been so busy in the morning her poll workers hadn’t even gotten a chance to start processing all the absentee ballots, though she said she hoped the counting would be finished Tuesday night by 10:30 p.m.
In South Wayne, poll workers say it was very busy all morning. A village that had 198 votes cast in 2016 had 98 in-person votes cast by noon and 44 absentee ballots returned.
Four years ago, Donald Trump won the vote in the village with nearly 60% of the vote when he received 116 votes.
Like Argyle, the village had also seen a number of same-day registrations and first-time voters. Including 26-year-old Harley French who says he cast his first ballot for one reason.
“Trump sucks,” he says.
One wrinkle in South Wayne though, was a broken vote tabulator. The poll workers who caught the early shift were laughing about the fate of the late shift workers who would have to hand count every vote this evening after polls close.
11 months ago
Trump truck outside ABC Supply in Beloit
Trucks flying Donald Trump banners have been cruising the state in convoys over the last several days. This one was spotted on Saturday across the street from ABC Supply, billionaire Trump donor Diane Hendricks’ company in Beloit.
“It is Election Day and, while Joe Biden’s campaign scrambles and fails to engage with voters, Trump Victory continues to connect with energized supporters and get out the vote,” campaign spokesperson Anna Kelly said in a statement. “In Wisconsin, Trump Victory has made over 13 million voter contacts, has over 100 Trump Victory staffers, and engaged tens of thousands of volunteers in all corners of the Badger State.”
11 months ago
Dem party chair: April election was ‘dress rehearsal’ for today
On a 10 a.m. Zoom call Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler took voters’ questions, outlined the party’s election strategy, and showed a documentary about the April 7 “pandemic primary” featuring liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky’s 11-point win. Wikler called that race a “dress rehearsal” for Election Day today.
The documentary covered the party’s shift to year-round, on-the-ground field organizing, drawing on local organizers as opposed to get-out-the-vote operations managed by out-of-town consultants who have traditionally parachuted in during presidential election years.
“We decided we were going to use the spring Supreme Court election as a dress rehearsal for the fall,” Wikler said. “In other words, we were going to scale up — and we did, to more than 100 organizers, which was a bigger field team than we’d had in the fall of 2018.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift to a new, virtual organizing model in the middle of the campaign. “We got a chance to test it on a statewide basis,” Wikler said.
That statewide organizing operation “is part of the groundwork for how we’re going to make sure that 2022 doesn’t look like 2020,” Wikler said.
Sounding confident that the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will win Wisconsin, Wikler cautioned that the outcome will not be clear until every vote is counted. And he touted Wisconsin’s statewide organizing model as a key to Democratic victories in future elections.
“The critical fight in the state party in every state across the country is to be ready for the backlash that Republicans will try to create,” he added, “and be able to keep fighting.”
11 months ago
Lesson from sloth voting
Slothra, resident of Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo, heading toward voting at her own pace is the best Election Day news yet on Twitter. She’s a wise reminder that even if voting takes some time, it’s worth the effort. Join Slothra in her quest — go vote.
— Henry Vilas Zoo (@HenryVilasZoo) November 3, 2020
Last updated: 11:22 am
11 months ago
A peaceful start to Kenosha voting
A “steady stream” of voters showed up to vote Tuesday morning in Kenosha at the Kenosha Public Museum and the Civil War Museum, says Tanya McClean, a local activist and organizer. With few lines, “it looked to be relatively easy,” McClean says. “Everything looks very peaceful.”
Some in the community had feared the possibility of disruption.
“A lot of people were worried about militia groups showing up at the polls,” McClean says. But there were none in sight.
President Donald Trump’s own comments at his political rallies this fall stoked those fears, even though he was “just saying a lot of things that aren’t true” to cast doubt on the results at the polls. “We know that’s the farthest from the truth,” says McClean, pointing to the state’s record of safe and secure voting.
McClean has been active in getting out the vote in the city’s Black and brown neighborhoods, an outgrowth of her activism in Kenosha seeking justice in the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August.
The absence of long lines at the polls on Tuesday follows a record early turnout for mail-in and early in-person voting. Before Election Day, 82,579 people, more than 80% of Kenosha County registered voters, voted by mail or early in person, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. “Which is great because we have a pandemic going on,” McClain says. “That’s a good sign.”
As of Nov. 2, the county had 100,331 registered voters, although Wisconsin’s same-day registration means that it’s possible that more people will sign up on Election Day.
Even with the record advance turnout, McClean planned to spend the rest of Tuesday morning canvasing residents, asking whether they’ve voted and, if they haven’t, answering concerns and helping them get to the polls.
11 months ago
Rural polling place overcomes pre-election poll worker shortage
The small town of Primrose in rural Dane County had reported a shortage of poll workers ahead of Election Day. But Clerk Ruth Hansen says she ended up having to turn away volunteers.
Hansen said she expected to reach about 90% turnout in the town of around 700 people that Hillary Clinton won with more than 60% of the vote in 2016 (out of only 448 votes).
On Tuesday, the polling place at Primrose Town Hall saw a steady stream of voters from opening at 7 a.m. until shortly before 9 a.m.
It was so busy in fact that poll workers didn’t get a chance to step away and start processing the town’s more than 200 absentee ballots until about 8:45.
During that five-minute lull, Hansen was able to step away and run home to feed her sheep.
Election observer Cindy Anderson says there was “always someone voting” all morning.
Anderson, a volunteer with the Wisconsin Democratic Party, is from Oak Park, Ill. The first time she came to volunteer for a political campaign in Wisconsin was in 2008 when she helped canvas for candidate Barack Obama.
“I had to do something,” Anderson says about coming on Election Day to observe rather than knock on doors because of the pandemic.
That year, Anderson says she brought her 6-year-old son who scootered alongside as she knocked on doors.
Now, that 6-year-old is 18 and eligible to vote for the first time. Anderson says he waited for more than four hours in the rain in Illinois to cast his first vote.
11 months ago
Watch the votes being counted
Join journalists and partisan political insiders in watching early voters’ ballots get counted as we wait for news to happen this Election Day. Central Count in Milwaukee is where all of the city’s absentee ballots are counted. Things got underway as the polls opened at 7 a.m. with a first shift of 400 workers and two more shifts to follow. No totals will be released until every last absentee ballot is tabulated tonight.
Speaking with reporters on Sunday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett lamented that Wisconsin is one of just a handful of states that does not allow absentee ballots to be counted in advance.
In the interest of full transparency, Central Count activities will be broadcast live Nov. 3 on @MKE_TV‘s YouTube pages until close. Watch different camera views on the two links below:
— Mayor Tom Barrett (@MayorOfMKE) November 2, 2020
In Wisconsin, Milwaukee is one of a number of municipalities that use a central count facility, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. “The governing body of any municipality may provide by ordinance that, instead of processing absentee ballots at the polling place, absentee ballots be processed and canvassed at an alternate site,” according to its website.
Workers were provided with thermometers, face shields, masks and snacks in Milwaukee where roughly 165,000 ballots will be processed.
Last updated: 10:22 am
11 months ago
Wisconsin Election Commission reports no issues as polls open
As polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said in a morning press briefing that there were no reports of issues as municipalities across the state opened in-person voting.
In an expected high turnout election taking place during a pandemic, Wolfe also gave updates on how local officials are ready for the challenges that brings.
There are 200-300 Wisconsin National Guard members in reserve to step in as poll workers if municipalities face a shortage at any point throughout the day. Wolfe said the needs of municipalities are always shifting but most places have a separate reserve of civilian poll workers or government employees so the Guard is a final stop gap.
In Outagamie and Calumet counties, which are facing the challenge of reconstructing more than 13,500 absentee ballots due to a polling error — and the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s refusal to provide a better solution — Wolfe said clerks feel confident.
“I think overall they were feeling confident they were able to find enough for workers to help with those additional remaking of ballots tonight,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe also reminded voters that mask wearing is required for poll workers and election observers but only recommended for voters because an additional qualification cannot be put on someone’s constitutional right to vote.
For people going to the polls today, they’ll need to bring a photo ID. Absentee ballots can still be dropped off in person as well.
All local information for how and where to cast a ballot is available at MyVote.WI.gov
11 months ago
Faith leaders head to polls to safeguard voters’ rights
As Election Day dawns, faith leaders around the state are among those gathering at polling places to support voters casting their ballots in person.
The Wisconsin Council of Churches (WCC) and Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice (WFVJ) have been partners for more than a year in the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign to educate and register voters and help them get to the polls. The project has included education and discussion programs on voting rights as well on voter suppression and its intersection with racism.
In a partnership with several voting-rights organizations, “we’ve been working most recently on training clergy and laypeople to engage in voter protection — both on Election Day and in the time between Election Day and Inauguration Day,” says Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, executive director Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice.
The campaign is working with lawyers who have represented voters and other groups that work to register voters and ensure voter rights.
The clergy and lay volunteers trained in “de-escalation” techniques will be out on Tuesday to support voters and promote peace in an election that has stirred fear of possible disruption by outsiders seeking to intimidate voters. Teams are planned for Madison, Milwaukee and Kenosha, and there may be others elsewhere in the state, according to organizers.
“They will be making sure things stay calm and peaceful,” Margulis says. “Making sure people are not intimidated out of voting. Helping people who face long lines remain patient as they wait to vote.”
Margulis says the campaign is hoping for a calm and peaceful election, while also “trying to be prepared as we possibly can.” Participating clergy are being asked to wear clerical collars, if appropriate to their tradition, or other emblems of their faith leadership. “We think that even just seeing that there are clergy there will, hopefully, help keep things calm and peaceful, Margulis says.
For the WCC, it’s part of the organization’s ongoing focus on the “stewardship of public life — where we pay attention to what’s happening in the public sphere from a theological framework,” says Rev. Kerri Parker, the council’s executive director.
“What’s happening between the church and its neighbors, what’s happening between each person and their neighbor, what’s happening in public life, is really a concern of all of us,” Parker explains. “What we vote on and how we come to vote are deeply faithful concerns.”
The campaign has also organized volunteers who, aware of the obstacles that many people face when it comes to voting, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, “want to make sure their neighbor is able to vote without trouble and interference and believe this is part of their responsibility,” she adds.
A central message for 2020 has been that while Election Day might be culmination of the voting process, the final outcome is unlikely to be known immediately.
“We’ve been looking at absentee ballots and mail-in ballots and recognizing that it’s going to take a while to count all the ballots this year,” Parker says. “That’s OK. As faith leaders we’re prepared to continue to be present for our communities in the days after the election while we wait patiently for the outcome of the count, and trust the system to do what it does.”
“If it takes time,” Margulis says, “it’s not for anything bad, because democracy is working. We are working very hard to make sure that every vote gets counted.”
11 months ago
What you need to know before voting on Election Day
For those not among the 1.8 million Wisconsinites who have already cast a ballot in the 2020 general election, there are still several ways for voters to vote and important things to remember before heading to the polls.
Polls open everywhere in Wisconsin at 7 a.m. and will remain open until 8 p.m. People still in line at 8 p.m. should remain in line as they will still be able to vote.
For people who need to register or update their address, Wisconsin allows same day voter registration. Voters need to bring a proof of residence document such as a driver’s license or state ID.
Absentee ballots can still be returned on Tuesday though the rules differ by municipality. In Madison, the city’s drop boxes are no longer available but ballots can be brought to the city clerk’s office or a voter’s polling location.
In municipalities that use a central count facility to count absentee ballots (39 cities including Milwaukee, check online), voters must bring ballots to municipal clerk’s offices or to the central count location itself.
Absentee ballots must be returned by 8 p.m.
All local information can be found at MyVote.WI.Gov
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