drop boxes for voting absentee

The partisan primary is a week from today. If you have already received your absentee ballot, you should return it through one of the drop boxes most of our North Shore and Ozaukee communities provide. The US Postal Service is experiencing significant delays, at least in Philadelphia and perhaps around the country. The new Postmaster General may be slowing the mail through his new cost-cutting policies, as he says, or he may be having that effect in order to please Drumpf by disrupting voting by mail. Or both. It hardly matters. Absentee voting is still the safest way for your voice to be heard, but in order to be counted your ballot must reach your election officials by 8pm on Tuesday, August 11. So instead of mailing your ballot back in the envelope provided, take your ballot sealed in its certification envelope with its witness signature and address to the drop box for your municipality. Here's a list of locations.

North Shore in Milwaukee County

Community Drop Box Location
Bayside deposit box outside the front door
Brown Deer brown mailbox on the sidewalk
Fox Point mail slot at the front door
Glendale metal drop box in the parking lot
River Hills slot in the front door
Shorewood white mailbox in the parking lot
Whitefish Bay depository inside the front door
Ozaukee County
Community Drop Box Location
Bayside Village outside front door
Belgium town TBD
Belgium Village leftside of front door
Cedarburg city southside of building next to planter
Cedarburg town will not have one
Fredonia town cream colored drop box
Grafton town drop slot next to front door
Grafton village entry hallway or in parking lot
Mequon city in building on south side of City Hall
Newburg village on exterior of building
Port Washington City Blue box inside front door - OR - yellow box outside back door
Saukville town TBD
Saukville village inside front door
Thiensville village front desk - OR - left of entry door

Getting your absentee ballot returned safely isn't the only thing to think about this week. If you did not receive an absentee ballot, you can vote by what's known as "early voting" or "in-person absentee voting" until 5pm on Friday, August 6. If for some reason you miss that opportunity, then your last option is to vote on Election Day. Polls are open from 7am to 8pm. If you're not sure you know where your polling place for this primary is, myvote.wi.gov will provide you with that information.

If you still need to register to vote — you can and should check your registration status at myvote.wi.gov — you will need to take required material with you either when you vote early in person or when you go to the polls on Election Day. You will need proof of residency and proof of identity (aka PhotoID).

In Covid-19 news, Governor Evers declared a public health emergency and has ordered masks to be worn statewide. Republicans are threatening to overturn it. I'm not sure why they want the virus to spread, especially to voters outside Milwaukee County, but that's the state of play as of today. There's lots of other news to review, but it will have to wait until next week! Right now, VOTE and get engaged. You'll find plenty of opportunities in the Events list.

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how to fight voter suppression in WI

In-person absentee voting has begun for the August 11 primary. So if you have not yet requested an absentee ballot, there's no time to lose. Using a smartphone to make uploading a digital picture of your Photo ID, just follow the instructions at myvote.wi.gov. For a visual guide to the process, see our step-by-step, illustrated instructions or a Citizen Action video. And if you have already requested or even received your ballot, return it ASAP. See below for an alternative method that allows you to bypass the postal service.

Voter suppression is occurring all around us in Wisconsin. So I want to take a few minutes to outline many of the ways voting can be discouraged or denied. And some of the ways each and every one of us can combat these problems.

  • Restrictive laws for registering to vote (residency periods & voter ID)
  • Restrictive laws for absentee voting (witness signature & address)
  • Restrictions on early voting (times & locations)
  • Restrictive laws for voting on Election Day (photo id)
  • Closed or moved polling places (a big problem in April)
  • Closed municipal offices
  • Disruption of the postal service
  • Poll observer challenges and intimidation
  • Fear
  • Manufactured apathy / Media manipulation

There are undoubtedly others.

Laws governing voting are hard to change. So knowing what the laws require is vital. Proving that you are who you say you are and that you live where you say you live can become huge obstacles for some. Under quarantine or isolation protocols, safely obtaining a witness signature and address on a mail-in ballot can pose problems. A solution: Be in touch with people you know who live alone and find out what they need to vote safely. In Wisconsin, anyone can vote absentee — no excuse is necessary. Help others provide their Photo ID electronically. Use safe social distancing to witness ballots. But the witness does not need to reside where the voter is registered to vote. The city of Milwaukee is providing a number of locations where people can get their ballots witnessed and drop them off. Even if you live in Ozaukee County, you can get your certification envelope witnessed at one of the city's early voting locations, though you'll have to post your ballot (or drop it off — see below) at your municipal office.

To register to vote in Wisconsin, a citizen must be able to prove that she resides at a specific location. Proof requires one of many approved documents. The full list can be found on the Wisconsin Election Commission website. The voter must have resided at that location for the 28 days preceding election day. Otherwise, the voter has to return to her previous location and vote at the polling location for that address. If she needs to register on election day or during the early in-person voting period, she will need proof of residence at that location! A solution: Help others plan ahead to acquire the needed documentation to register during the early voting period or at the polls on election day.

To exercise his right to vote in person on election day, a citizen must show proof of identity (also known as Photo ID) and must audibly recite his name and address so that any poll observers can challenge the voter. He must also sign the poll book. People with physical disabilities may find both the enunciation of their name and address and the requirement to sign the poll book to be problematic. A solution: People who might find those tasks challenging are entitled to assistance. You can volunteer to help people you know but who might have some trouble voting by taking them to their polling location and helping them do whatever is necessary to cast a ballot.

More troubling still is finding traditional polling places moved to new locations or closed altogether. For the April election, the city of Milwaukee was so short of poll workers that it could staff only FIVE polling locations instead of the 180 places it traditionally supported. To address this problem, the city needs to recruit hundreds of new poll workers. To work at the polls on election days, you need to be 1) eligible to vote; 2) live in the county where you intend to work; and 3) be available for training. A solution: If you live in Milwaukee County, you can apply to be an Election Inspector (aka poll worker) either through the Democratic Party's Election Protection Team or on the city's website. All voting districts have been allocated the funds to ensure that polls are as safe for poll workers and for voters as possible. And the city is paying Election Inspectors $230 for each election day. Ozaukee County residents can be poll workers at polling locations in Ozaukee County. In Ozaukee, you can sign up through the Democratic Party.

Urban Milwaukee recently published an article documenting that Mail-In Ballots Indicate Huge Turnout for August Primary. The absentee ballots have pre-paid postage on them but you do not have to mail them back. The US postal service seems to be experiencing some difficulties these days. For one thing, the newly appointed head of the organization has apparently banned any overtime work. And the problems may grow more severe in the fall. Moreover, the courts have ruled that mail-in ballots must be received by 8pm on election day. The confluence of these two edicts makes the postal service less reliable than we might wish. A solution: Use the drop boxes that many (if not most) municipalities provide. Here are the locations for drop boxes in Milwaukee's North Shore communities:

  • Bayside: Deposit box outside the front door;
  • Brown Deer: Brown mailbox on the sidewalk as you approach the building;
  • Fox Point: Mail slot in the front door;
  • Glendale: Metal drop box in the parking lot;
  • River Hills: Slot in the front door;
  • Shorewood: White mailbox in the parking lot;
  • Whitefish Bay: Depository inside the front door.

In Ozaukee County, contact your municipal clerk for information. Phone numbers for Ozaukee communities can be found on the Grassroots North Shore Elections 2020 page.

Election observers are provided by political parties and the GOP has promised to recruit 50,000 poll watchers to challenge voters. A solution: To make sure voters are not harassed or intimidated, the Democratic Party is likewise recruiting as many observers as it can. You can volunteer here and the Election Protection Team will fill you in on what you need to do and to know. And by the way, you don't have to be a Wisconsin resident or voter to be an observer. So friends and family in nearby states can also sign up as long as they can get to the poll to which they will be assigned.

In these uncertain times, many people fear exposure to Covid-19 if they have to vote in person. That's why it is so important that everyone you know can vote safely by absentee ballot. A solution: The best thing you can do is help others obtain their absentee ballot, fill it and the certification (return) envelope out correctly, and drop it off at his/her municipal office, preferably ahead of election day itself.

Of all the voter suppression tactics, manufactured apathy and media manipulation may be the hardest to overcome. As the current occupent of the White House continues to claim — falsely — that mail-in voting is inherently rife with fraud (see here and here and here for three important examples), and Facebook and other social media platforms let politicians spew falsehoods about voting, most of us feel pretty helpless. A solution: Those with social media accounts and plenty of courage should speak out as often as necessary to push back. And the tactic may be self-defeating. As the Washington Post story tell us, Republicans seem to be "driving suspicion among GOP voters toward absentee ballots." So some of their voters are not availing themselves of the opportunity to vote absentee. Now wouldn't it be a delicious irony if their lies ended up suppressing Drumpf votes!

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what's cooking

Things are starting to get really busy with the 2020 campaigns. We currently have some Biden signs and some Emily Siegrist signs (for the 24th Assembly District) available for pick up from the front porches of various houses. Once you RSVP for a Biden sign or a Siegrist sign, you will get an email telling you where you can get your sign safely. We will have Neil Plotkin signs (for the 8th State Senate District) and Deb Andraca signs (for the 23rd Assembly District) soon. So keep and eye out for the announcements.

The list of events is getting longer too. Keep an eye open for the following specials:

Usually, I cover some item of state or national news in the intro to the newsletter. But not this week. We all need a breather from terrible COVID-19 news, terrible commutation news, and the violence and bigotry that makes Black Lives Matter such an urgent and necessary movement. So I'm going to leave you with just one tidbit: Tangerine Man cancelled his rally in New Hampshire. It was supposed to take place last Saturday. The White House claimed the cause was bad weather in the forecast. But it was another sharpie revision to the weather map moment. The real reason appears to be lack of enthusiasm for attending a large, indoor event and risking the spread of the virus. Or maybe just lack of enthusiasm for a Trump rally. Go figure.

And go sign up for some events!

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the good news and the bad

What the polls show: Nationally, the polls for the last three months show a growing lead for Joe Biden. On May 6, his lead was 5.4%; on June 6 it was 7%; on July 6 it was 9.6%. And the in that last aggregation of national polls, Biden had topped the 50% mark — at a stupendous 51.1%. Here in Wisconsin, the polls are a bit tighter. May 6 had Biden with a lead of only 2%. On June 6 it had grown to 5.6%. Yesterday, Biden's aggregate lead was at 8.1%. These aggregations all come from Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com site and show the average of many polls. The poll Silver rates the highest — the Sienna College/New York Times Upshot poll from June 8-15 — showed Biden with an 11 point lead in Wisconsin, 49% for Biden to 38% for Trump.

In other battleground states, Biden is also leading. In Michigan, he has a lead of 9.7%, in Pennsylvania it's 7.5%, and in Florida it's 6.3%. Even in Arizona, Silver's calculation shows Biden leading by 3.1%! In Ohio, Biden leads by a slim 2.5%. So at the moment, both Arizona and Ohio are winnable. Even though it's early and the narcisist occupying the White House could still eke out a win somehow, the polls show that we have a great map to run on.

Meanwhile coronavirus infections are rapidly increasing, even here in Wisconsin. Again, FiveThirtyEight.com is tracking models from 15 different organizations showing guesstimates of the total fatalities as of August 1, three weeks from now. The national death toll as of July 6 stood at 130,285. The models range from a low of 132,000 - 139,000 to a high of 151,000 - 192,000 deaths by the end of July. In short, the range of estimates is quite large. As Ryan Best and Jay Boice (the authors of the analysis) explain, "the assumptions underlying the models can lead to vastly different estimates." No one model is the correct one. "They’re not trying to tell us one precise future, but rather the range of possibilities given the facts on the ground."

The picture in Wisconsin is not as dire as the one in Texas or Arizona, for example. But it is worrisome. Deaths from the virus have slowed somewhat but the positive rate from tests processed since July 5 is an unacceptably high 9.2%. (To slow the infection rate, the positive test rate must approach 1%.) The July 6 Journal Sentinel Online reported that the "state's seven-day average of new cases, which on Monday was 572, has been rising fairly steadily since June 17, when the seven-day average was 265 new cases per day." As the maps included in the reporting show, confirmed cases and deaths are both most concentrated in the southeast quadrant of Wisconsin. Milwaukee and the WOW counties are all rated as having HIGH rates of virus transmission.

The combination of the good news from polls and the bad news from both national models and local reports about covid-19 means that we will need to work hard over the next four months. And we will continue to have to campaign from the safety of our homes. So here are the latest opportunities to step up and help out.

  • For Grassroots North Shore:
    • Call the Democratic women in Ozaukee County who were sent postcards in late May and early June. We're following up with calls to encourage them to vote absentee in August and November and to be aware of the Democratic primary in the 6th Congressional District. We could use your help. Sign up.
    • Get a Biden yard sign, while they last. Once you sign up, you'll receive information for picking it up.

  • For the Wisconsin Democratic Party in Whitefish Bay, Bayside, Fox Point, and River Hills there are several great opportunities:
    • Tuesday, July 7th, 7:00 - 7:45pm: Flex Callers Kick-Off
      Link: https://secure.ngpvan.com/btZiHGGRNUyaAsdyOWwdFA2
      Team Launch for our weekly caller program. Volunteers will be trained on how to make calls on their own time for 3 hours a week through an OpenVPB link sent every Tuesday. The kick-off will be led by Shirley and Jack. There will be a 10-minute presentation covering setting up an ActionID, utilizing OpenVPB, navigating our Bridge Building Script, and laying out our calling strategy for the rest of the month, as well as a period to answer all-volunteer questions.
    • Thursday, July 9th, 3:00 - 4:00pm: June WFB Phone Bank Training
      Link: https://secure.ngpvan.com/a6qjO9o8-0q9brWWkeF6Ug2
      Virtual Phone Bank training for new volunteers seeking more information about joining our network. There will be a 20-minute presentation covering the importance of phone banking, how to set up an ActionID, utilizing our OpenVPB system, navigating our Bridge Building Script, and recruiting for our Flex Callers and July WOA led by Shirley and Jack.
    • Tuesday, July 14th, 6:30 - 7:30pm: June WFB Phone Bank Training
      Link: https://secure.ngpvan.com/BrIElMrD6UKxcDL4Y1watA2
      Virtual Phone Bank training for new volunteers seeking more information about joining our network. There will be a 20-minute presentation covering the importance of phone banking, how to set up an ActionID, utilizing our OpenVPB system, navigating our Bridge Building Script, and recruiting for our Flex Callers and July WOA led by Shirley and Jack.</br />
  • For the Wisconsin Democratic Party in Thiensville and Mequon there are several more great opportunities:

The number of events in and around Milwaukee remains modest and most are still taking place online. But I'm sure you can find at least one that moves you to Zoom!

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be strong & sign up for something

Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}} — 

So the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has finally ruled and the results are terrible. The unanimous decision rules that voting laws can be fashioned to discriminate against a particular party as long as those laws are not intended to discriminate by race! So laws restricting early voting, requiring voter IDs, witnessing absentee ballots and the like are okay (or at least not "justiciable") as long as the intent is to disadvantage a political party. If those laws also have a disparate impact on protected groups (i.e. races or ethnic groups), c'est la vie. For a more informed and detailed analysis of the ruling, you can't do better than to read Richard Hasen's post.

You can help Governor Evers retain his veto power over the maps the GOP dominated legislature is sure to draw next year by attending a July 1 Zoom meeting to "Save the Veto." It's essential that the state break the gerrymandered (i.e. rigged) electoral maps for the state senate, assembly and US congressional districts if the state is ever to move Forward! again. In light of the decision by the 7th Circuit Court yesterday, the only way to do that is by preventing the GOP from gaining a veto-proof majority in the legislature this fall. And by supporting the governor's efforts to unrig the maps. You can RSVP here. The Zoom link will be sent to you once you sign up.

On the positive side of the judicial ledger, as I am sure you're aware, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana TRAP law (targeted restrictions on abortion providers) that would have left Louisiana with only one abortion provider for the entire state. Chief Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote in the 5-4 decision and he based his position on the fact that the law in question was a carbon copy of the Texas law the court had struck down four years ago. The rub is that Roberts considers the Texas case wrongly decided! He just thought that the court could not reverse itself so quickly. For a fuller account of the decision and Roberts's role in it, see the editorial in today's New York Times.

The distressing verdict from the Appeals Court and the tenuous (and probably temporary) ruling from the US Supreme Court should make it plain that the composition of the judiciary is a fundamental concern in every election, but especially perhaps in this one. And we have our work cut out for us.

We need volunteers to call the Democratic women in Ozaukee county. We sent postcards to these voters in May and early June. Now we are following up those postcards with phone calls to encourage these voters to request absentee ballots (if they have not done so already) and to be aware of the vital primary on August 11 when they will elect someone to be the Democratic nominee for the 6th Congressional District. Please sign up. We need to make more than 2200 phone calls before July 19! Once you have signed up, I will send you a simple script and a link to the Virtual Phone Bank.

Other volunteer opportunities will be coming along — our own "fast and furious" efforts as well as those of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. This past weekend was the first Weekend of Action for the Dems and several Grassroots North Shore supporters are leading neighborhood teams that help get the word out about Democratic issues and candidates. Join one of the teams! If you live in Shorewood, the person to contact is Paul Geenen. If you live in Whitefish Bay, the person to contact is Shirley Horowitz. If you live in Glendale, contact Cheryl Maranto. For Bayside, Fox Point and River Hills, contact the field organizer, Jack Ave. In Brown Deer, reach out to Nijeria Boone. And in Ozaukee County, get in touch with Bayley Connors.

In a sign that the Democratic Party is alive and well, both the Milwaukee County party office and the Ozaukee County party office are opening and are staffed. The Milwaukee County party office, at 2999 S. Delaware Ave, is open Monday - Friday from 1pm to 6pm. Biden yard signs are available there as of July 1 (tomorrow!). The Ozaukee office, located at 1930 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 030 (lower level), Grafton, is opening on July 7 and will be staffed on Tuesdays 4-6 p.m., Thursdays 1-3 p.m., and Saturdays 1-3 p.m. Volunteers will distribute signs and campaign literature and can help people register or sign up for absentee balloting. In both offices, everyone is expected to wear a mask.

The events list this week is sparser than usual, due I suppose to the 4th of July holiday. As a result, I want to end this part of the newsletter with a link to a thought-provoking article published in the New York Times on June 28, 2020. In it Charles Blow argues that we cannot excuse any slaveholders, including George Washington and other founding fathers, just because they were simply creatures of their times or were "kind" to their slaves. Blow strikes back at these justifications:

"[E]nslavers were amoral monsters.

"The very idea that one group of people believed that they had the right to own another human being is abhorrent and depraved. The fact that their control was enforced by violence was barbaric.

"People often try to explain this away by saying that the people who enslaved Africans in this country were simply men and women of their age, abiding by the mores of the time.

"But, that explanation falters. There were also men and women of the time who found slavery morally reprehensible. The enslavers ignored all this and used anti-black dehumanization to justify the holding of slaves and the profiting from slave labor.

"People say that some slave owners were kinder than others.

"That explanation too is problematic. The withholding of another person’s freedom is itself violent."

It's tough to reconsider our idealized myths about the founding of our country. But we live blinkered lives if we do not take this moment in history to confront our past and consider our future. Blow's piece is a good place to start.

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let the games commence

You know an election cycle is in full swing when the first Grassroots North Shore endorsements appear. We have a whole page dedicated to endorsing the best candidates for statewide office in the North Shore of Milwaukee County and in Ozaukee County. And sure enough, we've made our first three endorsements:

  • For the 8th State Senate District, Neal Plotkin
  • For the 23rd Assembly District, Deb Andraca
  • For the 24th Assembly District, Emily Siegrist

The endorsements page includes our reasoning and links to candidates' web and Facebook pages when they are available.

On our Candidate Statements page, you'll find statements of key candidate issues and links to their websites or Facebook pages for the Democrats running for the nomination for the 6th Congressional District, currently represented by Republican Glenn Grothman. Grassroots North Shore typically does not endorse during a primary unless one candidate is clearly the only progressive in the race (see a recent race for sheriff in Milwaukee County!). Instead, we summarize their key issues, culled from their websites, and provide links to their campaigns so that it is easy for you to find information about who is running and what they emphasize about their candidacies. You'll find statements about the 6th Congressional candidates on our Candidate Statements page. And when they're available, we will also publish candidate statements for the 11th Assembly District.

We are all painfully aware of the gravity of the November 3, 2020 general election. However, the election in Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District is of maximum significance to the residents of that district and, quite possibly, to all Americans. August 11, 2020 is Primary Election Day. The voters of the 6th CD will choose a candidate to face the ignominious Glenn Grothman. The same Glenn

  • who opposed MLK Day;
  • who announced that women can buy birth control at the grocery store;
  • who claims that because women do not care about money as much as men do, they earn less;
  • who believes that only white left-wingers care about Kwanzaa;
  • who voted to the right of 428 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives in the 116th US Congress;
  • and who votes with Trump in 94% of the votes.

The good news is that three talented candidates are campaigning to send Glenn to his last Pancake Breakfast as Congressman of the 6th CD! So let's make sure every registered voter who leans toward the left gets out to vote on August 11.

Which brings me to a reminder to request an absentee ballot. Do it NOW to avoid the rush ahead of the August 11 primary. Remember, for the April 7 election, municipal clerks were overwhelmed with requests that came in close to the election. And the postal service also seems to have buckled under the rush in some places. But in case you were wondering, requesting an absentee ballot doesn't mean you can't vote in person, although it would be safer for you and kinder to poll workers if you did. Still, if conditions warrant, you can still vote in person. In many of our North Shore and Ozaukee communities, a municipal publication will include a paper form for making these requests. And the Wisconsin Election Commission intends to send a request form to every registered voter in the state, though probably not until after the primary election. So there will be plenty of reminders in addition to this one. If you need assistance with any part of the process, whether online (see our step-by-step guide) or on paper, you can contact your municipal clerk. You'll find contact information for them on our our Partisan Primary and General Elections page.

I also want to highlight the great work we have been doing while we're still all working from home. We just launched our voter purge project, to contact Democrats on the state's voter purge list to let them know and to help ensure that they are properly registered and can vote in August and November. Some 571 names are on the list in the North Shore, and volunteers are using a Virtual Phone Bank set up by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to reach out to all of them. We will also be participating in the DPW's Weekend of Action coming up on June 27 and 28 (please see the links to sign up for these phone banks in the Events list). And starting next week, we will be making phone calls to the 2160 women in Ozaukee County to whom we recently sent postcards, following up to urge them to vote — absentee if possible — in the vital primary for the 6th Congressional District. If you would like to participate in that activity, please sign up.

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Justice, Justice shall you pursue

Today is George Floyd's funeral in Houston. Former Vice President Biden will be present. But most of us can't participate in the actions around the country and here in the Milwaukee area to support the calls for racial justice, economic justice, and health justice. Grassroots North Shore is sending out a press release that unequivocally supports the peaceful protests taking place throughout our area:

Grassroots North Shore
Statement of support and solidarity

We at Grassroots North Shore want to reaffirm our role as an ally to all people and groups working for a more fair and equitable society. While we may live in suburban, majority white, communities, we are keenly aware of the needs that exist beyond our individual municipalities. We are appalled by the injustices heaped upon people of color. We further support all peaceful protest. We support the need to bring the issue to the immediate attention of our nation as a whole. We believe the struggle should be of concern to all people, not just people of color in that it defines who we are and want to be as a nation. We abhor the use of violence against protesters, the use of military and military tactics, and the attempts to paint protestors as lawless opportunists. We will continue to speak out for those striving for equality and against those who seek to limit that movement’s progress.

If you would like to support local activists, please visit the Milwaukee Freedom Fund and consider making a donation to help with the legal expenses of those who have been arrested in addition to other support for people who are asserting their rights to protest for justice. To learn more about the Milwaukee Freedom fund, please visit an extensive explanation, complete with information for people who have been ticketed for protesting. You might also want to see the resource page the ACLU has created for those involved in protests.

Remember, too, to email your interview questions for Deb Andraca (running to unseat Jim Ott in the 23rd Assembly District), Emily Siegrist (running to defeat Dan Knodl in the 24th Assembly District), and Neal Plotkin (running to unseat Alberta Darling in the 8th State Senate District). Edgar Lin, a criminal defense lawyer and a member of the Governor & Lt. Governor’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Advisory Counsel, will be conducting the interviews this summer for airing at our Virtual Annual Picnic on September 13th, as we kick off our fall election efforts. Although we do not endorse candidates in primary contests, we will create informational pages for contested primary seats in the 11th Assembly District and the 6th Congressional District.

A key element of our election strategies for this year will be combatting voter suppression and undertaking efforts to encourage voters to request absentee ballots for both the August 11th primary and the November 3rd election. This is a great time to spread the word to your friends and family about absentee voting. In Wisconsin, voters do not need to provide a reason for their desire to vote absentee. For citizens who are already registered, the request for an absentee ballot can be completed online at myvote.wi.gov. For help with uploading a copy of the photoID that is required, we have an illustrated web page with step-by-step instructions. People who are not currently registered can also use the myvote.wi.gov if their drivers license includes their current address. Otherwise, people should phone or email their municipal clerk for assistance. They can find contact information on the myvote.wi.gov website or on the website for their municipality.

Most of the events on the list are still virtual but one or two may not be. Please check before you set out to attend. And as always (as they used to say at the beginning of every episode of Hill Street Blues), Stay safe out there.

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Keep November in our sights

Like the virus itself, our crises seem to metathesize. It's easy to feel despair, or even just discouraged. So it's important to keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on. Militarizing the police was a disastrous policy begun in the 1990s, ended by the Obama administration, and resurrected by the bully-in-chief. His administration considers the people protesting injustice to be enemy combatants who occupy a "battle space" the heavily armed and armored police must "dominate." Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on. For sustenance coming from an unusual place, try reading George Will's op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday. The headline reads Trump must be removed. So must his congressional enablers. And keep your eyes on the prize. HOLD ON.

As you have probably heard, the WI Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the case for purging voters immediately — and that now means before the November election. When this case was presented to the court in February, Dan Kelly recused himself because he was on the April 7 ballot. As a result, the six justices deadlocked on the case, 3-3, with Brian Hagedorn voting with the two liberal justices to let the appeals court ruling stand. Now Kelly is back on the court until July 1. Of course he tipped the balance so that the vote to hear the case became 4-3. Luckily, he will be replaced by Jill Karofsky when the court hears oral arguments. Meanwhile, our effort to contact voters on the purge list continues. Our purpose is not just to find voters who might need to re-register or to fix whatever problem landed them on the list in the first place. Our purpose includes making sure voters can vote safely. We're urging them to request absentee ballots. We're urging them to check their registration. And we're demonstrating that we care about their vote and their health.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has recently taken up this project in a helpful way. Instead of researchers having to look up each name individually, the data team in Madison is using its technologies to find all the strong and leaning Democrats on the list and compiling them into one or more virtual phone banks. They're also able to remove the 80,000+ people from the list who have already communicated about their voter registrations and therefore do not need to be contacted again for the purpose of making sure they're registered. So the list has been reduced to about 150,000 names. Still, a large number of those who remain are undoubtedly in Milwaukee. And that's where you come in. We will need all the help we can get to contact every one of them. If you have not done so already, please sign up to phone.

And in the Wisconsin tradition of moving forward, here's a "save the date" announcement of our Annual Picnic. Grassroots North Shore’s annual picnic will return, but not this year. Instead we're going virtual! So is it really a picnic? Well, it's the next best thing. Mark your calendars now so that you can tune in on September 13th at 4:30pm to Meet Our Candidates.

We're offering a virtual event to introduce to you Wisconsin’s future legislators, running against entrenched Republicans who ignore the needs and desires of their constituents. Featured candidates include: Deb Andraca, who is running against Jim Ott in Assembly District 23; Emily Siegrist, running against Dan Knodl in Assembly District 24; Neal Plotkin, running against State Senator Alberta Darling in State Senate District 8; and others. Each candidate will give a short presentation followed by a 10-minute Q&A with moderator Edgar Lin.

You are encouraged to submit questions for the candidates to Shirley Horowitz. Whenever possible, preferences for assigning questions will be given to people who live in that candidate’s district. (NOTE: Please keep questions relatively short.)

The list of events has more virtual ones than ever. For any events that are not virtual, please check with the organizers if possible. I know everyone is trying to keep up with all the novel arrangements put in place to deal with the pandemic but an automatic listing on a calendar may be overlooked in some cases. And in any case, be safe. If you do go to in-person events, practice good social distancing, wear a mask and avoid touching your face. Meet with others outside if possible. And make sure you wash or sanitize your hands often, especially as soon as you return home.

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Good news, everyone! The Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Organizing Director, Anna Surrey, has agreed to support our current effort to contact people on the original voter purge list. That's the list of 200,000+ names that the Wisconsin Election Commission had identified as having moved, having changed a name, or simply having neglected to vote for several elections in a row. The purge list was apparently compiled in fall 2019, but was not intended to be executed until after the November 3, 2020, election. However, the GOP challenged that decision in court and the case has gone to the Wisconsin Supreme Court where a decision is pending. Meanwhile, we see this as a terrific opportunity to reach out to voters, make sure they have re-registered (or at least check their registration status), and urge them to request an absentee ballot for the August 11 primary AND the November 3 general election.

For the seven North Shore communities, the research part of the voter purge protection project is well under way. We don't need any more people to look the names up in VAN to find out whether they have been identified by likely party and to find a phone number for them. We may need a few more people who are willing to call and leave a message or talk to the person on the list. We can then update information in VAN, making the lists we use to send postcards and to call voters for the two upcoming elections much better. So please, if you can reach out to people in our communities, sign up on our website.

The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County will be launching its version of this project in the next week or so. And it needs plenty of volunteers. There are more than 52,000 names on the list after those in the North Shore communities have been taken care of. I've already sent a list of names and contact info to the party to make VAN accounts for about 28 people who have volunteered with the party. But with so many people to find, the party is going to need a lot more help. So please sign up for the DPMC effort also.

I don't know about you, but my husband and I are still much safer at home. So we have plenty of time to watch edifying fims on TV. Slay the Dragon is one of them. The film addresses a number of issues with gerrymandering (the practice of designing electoral districts to make them as uncompetitive as possible). Arguably, this practice has essentially led to minority rule in this state for an entire decade. Even when Democrats get a substantial majority of the votes in elections for the State Assembly, as they did in 2018, Republicans retain 2/3 of the seats. This whole week the film is available to us for free. At the end of the week, you can talk with a number of Wisconsin luminaries about how we can end gerrymandering in Wisconsin. But to get a viewing time, you have to sign up. You will also receive a reminder about the panel discussion on Saturday, May 30, at 4pm.

The events list is a little fuller than it has been in the last month or so. And there are still several events that have apparently been suspended and not resumed even though the Safer at Home order was lifted two weeks ago. There may also be a few events that are taking place in person. If you decide to go to such an event, make sure you can do so safely. The CDC recommends that we all wear masks in public, that we maintain at least 6 feet of clear space between us and other people, and that we practice good hand hygiene whenever we leave the house to run errands or to meet with others.

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Chaos reigns

Our state Supreme Court has done it again. Now, apparently, it's every village and hamlet, county, town, and city for itself. We can't even call it a patchwork of COVID-19 orders or rules or whatever. It's simply chaos, leaving people like me totally confused. And upset. What is permitted and what is not; what is open and what is not; what is least risky and what is high risk? These are the kinds of questions people might have. And it's unclear where you can go to get answers.

The Wisconsin State Journal has made an attempt to answer the safety question. The article covers activities such as going to a dentist to get your teeth cleaned, or having your hair cut, styled, or colored. But of course no one article can offer sound advice about risks in every situation.

The Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Service's page for Administrative Orders does not appear to have issued its own Safer at Home order. What it has instead is a "pledge" you can take together with information about what staying at home means, why people should do it, and what activities are permitted (though this element seems to be unchanged since before the WI Supreme Court nullified the Governor's Safer at Home order).

On the other hand, the municipalities surrounding the City of Milwaukee — including the seven communities in Milwaukee County that are covered by Grassroots North Shore — did issue a stay-at-home order to take the place of the statewide one that was nullified. It expires at midnight on Thursday, May 21. It's not clear what will happen after that but the order does state

The prior Wisconsin Safer at Home Order worked to flatten the curve of infections of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin saw meaningful gains from this proactive step. Milwaukee County data demonstrated that there was an initial peak of COVID-19 cases in early April, but COVID-19 cases have been trending upward in recent weeks and have surpassed the previous peak. With increasing testing capacity, we anticipate increased detection of new COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks that will correspond with identifying significant community transmission. This is a crucial time for Milwaukee County to maintain the momentum in containing COVID-19 in our community and halt further dissemination of the disease....

Future decisions will be based on the COVID-19 data for the county and upcoming orders will necessarily remain fluid and will be based on the above factors as well as emerging data and research.

You can keep up with the latest at the North Shore Health Department. Look for its Reopening Public Spaces page.

Ozaukee County shares a Public Health Department with Washington County. Here's the information about current orders there:

If you choose to reopen your business, you are not in violation of Safer at Home or orders issued by the health department. Under the direction of the Ozaukee County Board Chair, the Ozaukee County Administrator, and the Washington County Executive, the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department will issue no countywide orders limiting the public or businesses at this time in response to the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in our counties. The health department will address any localized COVID-19 outbreaks on an individual basis and continue to provide follow up for positive cases and conduct contact tracing. We urge you to refer to our Blueprint FAQ for recommendations on how to safely reopen our counties.

It's unclear whether cities, villages, and towns in the county can issue their own, separate orders.

The League of Progressive Seniors also has a petition so that signatories can pledge to keep everyone safe. The petition preamble states "The League of Progressive Seniors believes NO ONE is expendable. Not older adults. Not workers. No one. We're all in this together." It aims to send a message to our elected officials: "Open when it's safe. Protect the public health. Stop playing politics with our future!"

While we work to make our state safer for all its residents, we don't want to forget that there's a super-important election coming up in November. The presumptive nominee for the Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden, is holding a virtual rally for Milwaukee on Wednesday, May 20, at 3:30pm. Let's give Joe a healthy dose of our love and devotion by showing up, online, and cheering him on. Let's not let the political pundits — especially the Debbie Downers — conclude that there's an enthusiasm gap for VP Biden. Get all the details and attend the online rally.

Let's also plan ahead just a bit. During Fair Maps Week (May 24-30), we urge you to watch Slay the Dragon, a film highlighting gerrymandering travesties. At the end of the week, when everyone has watched the film, you can talk with a number of Wisconsin luminaries about how we can end gerrymandering in Wisconsin. Sign up for a viewing and also for a reminder about the panel discussion on Saturday, May 30, at 4pm.

And in Grassroots North Shore news, we have two major projects under way right now. The first is our postcards to Ozaukee voters initiative. Volunteers are writing the cards now and sending them out next week. We could use some additional support in the form of funds for stamps. So be generous and donate what you can. We want to reach as many potential voters in Ozaukee as we can, partly to persuade them to vote blue and partly to urge them to vote absentee and be safe. Kick in a little.

Our second initiative is an effort to reach voters who may be purged from the voter rolls. We've acquired the list of names on that purge roster who were registered to vote in our North Shore communities but who may have moved or who may be on the list in error. Using the Democrat's VAN database, we will be looking up the likely party of each name and noting the phone numbers of those who are strong or leaning Democrats. Then we will be trying to reach each one by phone to find out their registration status and to help them navigate myvote.wi.gov to re-register if necessary. If you can help us, please sign up to research, to phone, or to do both. We hope to be ready to begin shortly after Memorial Day and to have finished the project before we turn our attention to the August 11 primary, the Wisconsin State Fair (assuming it takes place), and the Democratic National Convention currently scheduled to begin on August 17.

The events list is beginning to include more virtual ones but it also has some that have been suspended or canceled. Given the confusion about the status of stay at home orders in our state, people should probably contact the venue or sponsoring organization if at all possible to get up-to-date information. What I have included here is what the Southeast Wisconsin and Milwaukee Dems calendars show. Given how much more open for business Ozaukee County already is, it might also be worth consulting the Ozaukee County Democrats' calendar.

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