Milwaukee County proposal aims to help staff polling sites

By: - November 11, 2019 4:16 pm
sign advertising for poll workeres

New measures aimed at enriching Milwaukee’s voting environment are continuing to pour out of the county board. A proposal from Supv. John Weishan Jr (District 16) to allow county employees time off to work at polling sites passed Nov. 7 by a vote of 11-5.

Supv. John Weishan
Supv. John Weishan

“We shouldn’t be penalizing county employees who want to work at polling sites on Election Day,” said Weishan. “By allowing county employees who want to work at polling locations, we’re helping ensure that all polling sites have enough workers, and we’re helping reduce the amount of time that citizens will have to stand in line to vote.”

The proposal states that county employees will be allowed paid time off to work at the polling sites. “It is the duty of Milwaukee County to support the cities and villages within its boundaries to support elections,” reads the resolution. It goes onto call this, “an objective which can only be achieved through adequately staffing municipal polling locations to effectively register voters, distribute ballots, count ballots, and report results.”

It notes, “municipalities often struggle to provide adequate staffing for primary and general elections held in the spring and fall, and the inability to efficiently administer polling places can, among other things, lead to long lines, which may discourage people from voting and cause delays in reporting election results from each ward.”

“The County should encourage its employees to assist local municipalities to administer primary and general elections by granting paid time off to serve as poll workers,” reads Weishan’s resolution.

Recent weeks have seen a number of resolutions make their way from the desks of Milwaukee County supervisors. Last week, Supv. Sequanna Taylor (Dist. 2) and Supv. Theodore Lipscomb (Dist. 1) announced their support for renewing a birth certificate program in Milwaukee. The program would authorize the county to distribute 1,000 birth records to residents, which would allow them to obtain photo IDs in order to vote.

Another resolution, proposed by Taylor, received unanimous support from the board in September. It sought to restore the voting rights of people on probation and parole. Taylor’s resolution is in lock-step with a state-level bill supported by Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), also aimed to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated Wisconsinites.

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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.