Milwaukee to help residents vote by mail after in-person primary leads to virus cases

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The new 'SafeVote' effort will help people cast a ballot while avoiding the dangers they experienced during the primary.

Every one of the roughly 300,000 registered voters in Milwaukee will receive an absentee ballot application in the mail, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, helping to ensure voters will be able to cast a ballot in November's general election without having to risk their health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes after Republicans in Wisconsin blocked Democratic Gov. Tony Evers from delaying the state's April 7 primary, forcing voters to violate a stay-at-home order and risk their health to cast in-person votes if they had not previously requested an absentee ballot.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the state's in-person voting sites were shuttered, meaning voters had to wait in hourslong lines to vote.

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On top of that, Milwaukee's health commissioner has already tied at least seven cases of the novel coronavirus to the April 7 primary election so far.

In order to prevent such a situation from happening again in the fall — when experts say there could be another resurgence of the coronavirus — the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously passed the "SafeVote" program.

The program ensures each registered voter will not only receive an absentee ballot application, but they'll also get a pre-stamped envelope to return that absentee ballot request, according to the text of the resolution.

"The spectacle of thousands of citizens gathering to vote in the Spring 2020 General Election, while in a way inspiring, was an unacceptable danger to their own well-being and that of others and must not be repeated," the text of the resolution creating program reads.

The resolution goes on to say, "voting by mail must be seen as the best way to ensure the best possible participation in a vital election."

Both Evers and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett approve of the SafeVote program, according to the Journal Sentinel, with Barrett seeking federal coronavirus aid funding to pay for the initiative.

Democrats have been pushing for states across the country to adopt vote-by-mail for the November election, saying that states cannot risk having to delay voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans, including Donald Trump, are resisting the effort, falsely claiming that absentee voting leads to fraud.

Trump gave more insight into why he opposes vote-by-mail in an interview with Fox News in late May, saying making it easier to vote absentee would help Democrats.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.