NOW it's a sprint!

Early in-person voting has begun in Wisconsin! The chair of the Milwaukee County Democratic Party has informed the Executive Committee that by tomorrow, voters in Wisconsin will have already cast over a million votes. Yesterday's Journal Sentinel analyzed the absentee ballots received before the early in-person voting began. "Wisconsinites have now returned more than 860,000 absentee ballots by mail, according to the latest statewide data released Monday. That is the equivalent of 29% of the state’s 2016 turnout of just under 3 million. And it’s astronomically more ballots cast by mail than in any previous fall election in Wisconsin. Dane County has returned the most ballots as a percentage of its 2016 vote (45%), followed by Brown (35%), Door (34%), Milwaukee (32%) and Bayfield, Ozaukee and Outagamie at 31%." In the North Shore, "communities that have hit 50% of their 2016 turnout include Bayside, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay in Milwaukee County...." In short, turnout is already high and climbing.

If you yourself have not already voted, now would be a good time to do so. For early voting days & times in your community, see our Early Voting page on our website. Voting early means that if you are not in a high risk group for Covid-19, you can sign up to be a "poll observer" and help ensure that voters are not intimidated or challenged when they go to vote on election day. Sign up here.

And here's some analysis you can use — and we have published on our website — to talk about the economy and jobs with that shrinking pool of undecided voters. Bill Holahan and our own Keith Schmitz have teamed up to bring us another "Mythbusters" segment. Bill dissects the latest jobs report, the last one the Federal government will release before Election Day. Be sure you watch it and refer others to it.

The events list is suddenly quite full and long! Lots of opportunities to help win races in Wisconsin. So be sure you sign up for something. Although voters are turning out in droves around here, our candidates will need your help to chase down every last one of our left-leaning supporters to turn them out by or on election day. Only two weeks remain: get busy!

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Four weeks to go

With only four weeks to go, Grassroots North Shore is putting the pedal to the metal. And you should too. The polls are looking good but we all know we cannot entirely rely on them. So what are you prepared to do? Here are some suggestions:

You'll find other opportunities to contribute your energies to worthy candidates and causes in the events listing.

The latest forecast for the electoral college from fivethirtyeight.com predicts that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will win 83 out of 100 times in the 40,000 simulations the site runs frequently. It's based on both state and national polls and is a pretty reliable guide to where things stand right now. The chances of a Biden/Harris win have been increasing steadily over the past week. So I'm cautiously optimistic. The site has Wisconsin at 52.6% for Biden and 46.5% for Drumpf. The margin is a mere 6.1% but the really important piece of data is that Biden is well over the 50% mark!

RealClearPolitics has the national polling at +9.2% for Biden and the Senate going BLUE if its state-by-state projections pan out. Although we should not rely on polls and relax, you might want to bookmark these two sites. RealClearPolitics runs a bit to the right while fivethirtyeight.com tries to hew to the objective, statistical probabilities. Between the two, you are likely to get a fairly clear picture of the state of the race.

Finally, the results of the first debate between the disgrace of a president and former VP Biden are in. Daily Kos has the story.

A new CNN-SSRS national poll released Tuesday puts Joe Biden up over Donald Drumpf by a whopping 16 points among likely voters, 57%-41%. And the poll isn't exactly an outlier. Another national poll released over the weekend by NBC News/Wall Street Journal gave Biden a 14-point advantage among registered voters.

Both polls were taken entirely after Drumpf's off-the-rails performance last Tuesday, but CNN's poll—taken Thursday-Sunday—also captured most of the window in which the public learned Drumpf had tested positive for COVID-19. In fact, support for Biden's response to the pandemic spiked in the latest poll, giving him a 21-point advantage over Drumpf on the matter.

Overall, on the issues, voters gave an advantage to Drumpf on basically nothing. Even on the economy, Biden held a slight edge, with voters preferring Biden over Drumpf 50%-48%. And then there was everything else—where Biden dominated.

  • Coronavirus: Biden 59%, Drumpf 38%
  • Health care: Biden 59%, Drumpf 39%
  • Racial inequality: Biden 62%, Drumpf 36%
  • Supreme Court nominations: Biden 57%, Drumpf 41%
  • Crime and safety: Biden 55%, Drumpf 43%

Now get busy. We can win this election and take back the Senate. But we need all hands on deck.

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Let's Get Ready to Rumble

Important things to do this week: Watch the first presidential debate, perhaps, but for sure sign up for our Sweet Sixteen afternoon party and FUNdraiserat 4:30 on Sunday, Oct. 4, with our guest and good friend John Nichols. He's bound to lift our spirits and get us well and truly pumped up ahead of the election. In the spirit of the Wisconsin we used to know, John is a true progressive through and through. He believes in the power of collective action, both in marching for justice and in voting for change. The event itself is open to the public. But we encourage you to support Grassroots North Shore with whatever donation you can afford.

In this year of multiple elections, and of Covid-19, we have still been hard at work, teaming up with Souls to the Polls to recruit Election Inspectors (aka poll workers), with Civitech and Indivisible groups in northern Illinois to register voters, and with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to make direct voter contact. We have now sent voter information postcards and follow-up phone calls to more than 10,000 voters in Ozaukee County, the North Shore, and the city. We've helped sponsor a candidate forum with the Ozaukee Dems and held another candidate forum for four candidates running for Assembly and state Senate. And now we're experimenting with innovative pantomime canvassing — with poster boards — to maintain appropriate social distancing while refusing to give up door-knocking altogether. Volunteers have stepped up to make all these activities possible. But without funds, the vibrant and creative talents our supporters provide can't continue. And that's why we need your financial support as well.

Partnering with others is one way we multiply the energy and talent in the Grassroots North Shore Community. So let Jim Brown with Supermarket Legends know if you want to help Milwaukee optimize its early voting period (from October 20 through November 1). The plan is to do signage and visibility near early voting sites (there are 18 of them) without any direct contact with people. Near some of the sites where signs might be most effective, cars with EARLY VOTE HERE NOW signs will be placed on top of cars and trucks. Volunteers who are comfortable with it can stand nearby and wave bright orange signs with arrows pointing to the voting locations without risking anyone's health. Supermarket Legends will supply the signs and everything else you need.

Grassroots North Shore is still looking for people to make follow-up phone calls to voters who received postcards from us, both on the North Shore and in the city. Our purpose is to encourage early voting, both by vote-at-home balloting (aka vote-by-mail) and by early in-person voting. Our phone calls provide important information about the processes people can use and also give voters the phone number of the Voter Protection Team in case they run into snags. You can sign up to help us complete the calls to North Shore voters and to younger voters in Milwaukee. Like Supermarket Legends, we know that early voting effectively reduces lines and chaos on Election day. And people can register or correct problems with their registration during the early in-person voting period. The sealed ballot envelope can be witnessed and turned in as the voter completes the process.

YARD SIGNS! We have them and they're yours just for the asking! Go to our Yard Signs website page and sign up for all that apply: Biden/Harris, of course, but also Neal Plotkin (8th state Senate District), Deb Andraca (23rd Assembly District), and Emily Siegrist (24th Assembly District). Yard signs help with name recognition for the candidates and let your neighbors and passersby know that you are proud of and enthusiastically support our candidates. After you sign up, you'll receive an email with some instructions and/or contact from those organizing the distribution of signs.

Finally, I'm sure you've already heard about the New York Times bombshell reporting on DJT's 20 years of tax returns. The lead story was published Sunday evening. Today there's a second story showing the fortune and the fortunes DJT made out of The Apprentice, what he squandered the money on, but how he catapulted himself into the White House on the strength of the phony business acumen that was the central fiction of the TV show. Will this be the exposé that brings "The Donald" down? Who knows. But it appears that rushing to name a new Supreme Court justice is not helping him win over any voters. It turns out that a majority of Americans think winner of presidential election should select Supreme Court nominee, according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

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let's get going!

The absentee ballots will go out on time! That's the apparent result of yesterday's Wisconsin Supreme Court decision denying the Green Party a spot on the presidential ballot this time around. Kanye West also met with defeat in a ruling last Friday, although he has apparently filed an appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We expect his appeal to fail, however. Assuming the ballots go out by the legal deadline, anyone who has already requested an absentee ballot should receive it within the next week. By law, they have to be mailed on or before September 17. So watch for yours. You can find out when your clerk put yours in the mail at myvote.wi.gov. You can also see what's on your ballot there.

This last week has been a real rollercoaster in the political news, but Grassroots North Shore has kept its balance throughout. We premiered our candidate forum on YouTube on Sunday, Sept. 13. If you missed it, you can still view the show at our YouTube channel. And we continued to send 2800 postcards to voters in the North Shore who had not yet requested an absentee ballot. Beginning this week we're following up with phone calls to card recipients. The calls provide detailed information on the absentee ballot process as well as the in-person early voting process. We could use more callers, natch. Sign up to participate!

We've begun sending vote reminder postcards to ~3000 city voters this week and will be following up those cards with phone calls too. The calls are easy — offering information and assistance to Democratic voters. Think of it as an untraditional Get Out the Vote activity: untraditional because it's starting now instead of the weekend before Election Day and also because we are not able to go door-to-door as we typically would have. We'll ask people to sign up for those calls in next week's newsletter. So make a mental note to join us.

Finally, give a little something to the cause. Every Democrat running anywhere in the country, it seems, is filling my inbox with dire and or joyous news designed to pry some money out of me. I'm sure it's the same for you. But in this case, I'm not asking on behalf of any particular candidate. I'm asking you to help support the work of Grassroots North Shore for another year. Our good friend and crackerjack speaker, John Nichols, will fire us up in a live Zoom talk on Sunday, October 4, at 4:30. (Once you RSVP, you will receive further information about connecting to the Zoom meeting.) The program is free, but Grassroots North Shore — for all that it's a fully volunteer-staffed organization — needs to raise enough money to see it through each year. In case you don't know what expenses we have, here's a short list: operating expenses, this newsletter, our regular events, and of course political organizing and campaigning. You can donate before, during, and even after the event. Every dollar is deeply appreciated.

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It's beginning to look a lot like ... Election Day!

In last week's newsletter, I wrote that fall was almost upon us. This week, it's here already! And since Labor Day is now in the rear view mirror, it really is time to get ourselves in gear and get going. Voting is already happening in North Carolina and may soon begin here as well. Municipal clerks by law must send absentee ballots to everyone who has already requested them by September 17, according to the Wisconsin Election Commission. September 17 is a mere nine days from now. So Wisconsin voters should have ballots in hand by the 19th or 21st of this month. Another way to think about this: Get Out the Vote work — traditionally the focus of the last weekend before election day — is already on the bubble. And Grassroots North Shore is beginning its GOTV effort by doing follow-up phone calls with people we've recently sent postcards to. We'll be calling two different populations: women on the North Shore in Milwaukee County and younger voters (ages 18-40) in the city. All the targets are at least leaning toward voting for Democrats, so these should be easy calls to make. You can sign up now. We should have everything ready to go by the begging of next week.

And don't forget to tune in to our Zoom picnic morphed into a candidate forum on Sunday, September 13. The event begins at 4:30 but the "waiting room" opens at 4:15. You'll want to be there to hear from a quartet of Democratic candidates, three of whom who are running to unseat incumbent Republicans. Deb Andraca is running for Assembly District 23. Her territory includes Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Bayside, and a big chunk of eastern Ozaukee County. Emily Siegrist is running for Assembly District 24, with territory in Glendale, Brown Deer, a piece of west Ozaukee County, and a chunk of Washington County. And Neal Plotkin is running to unseat Alberta Darling in the 8th state Senate District. That district includes Assembly District 23 and Assembly District 24. Dora Drake, the fourth candidate in our forum, is running for an open seat in Assembly District 11.

Each candidate will give a 10-minute presentation followed by a Question and Answer period with Edgar Lin, an attorney with experience in the State Public Defenders Office. So by the end of the event, you'll be well informed about the race in your Assembly District and in a state Senate District. Why is this important? We're counting on you to do the vital work of relational organizing, a fancy term for talking with your friends and neighbors about these outstanding candidates. And about the need to overcome the gerrymandering the GOP legislature put in place in 2011. If Republicans gain a supermajority in both of the legislative chambers in this election, they will be able to over-ride the Governor's veto of the rigged electoral maps they're sure to concoct in 2011, ensuring Republican control of the legislature until 2031. We can't let that happen!

So join us for this candidate forum by signing up on our website. You'll then receive an email with the information you need to connect with the zoom meeting. Sign up here.

And for a little pick-me-up, try the Republican-leaning Rasmussen poll for Wisconsin. It has Biden leading the evil buffoon in the White House by 8%, 51% to 43%. "Among the 84% of Wisconsin voters who are already certain how they will vote, Biden leads 54% to 46%." Will you look at that! The BLUE team is fired up and ready to vote.

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making the next two months count

Fall is almost upon us. So in a normal year, we'd be getting geared up for our annual picnic at Cahill Park. Alas, not this year. Instead we're venturing into the weird territory of online events. So you'll have to supply your own food and drink! But don't worry. Grassroots North Shore will supply the REAL MEAT (or should I say MEET): four excellent candidates for legislative positions in Wisconsin. Dora Drake is running in the 11th Assembly District; Deb Andraca is running (against Jim Ott) in the 23rd Assembly District; Emily Siegrist is running (against Dan Knodl) in the 24th Assembly District; and Neal Plotkin is running (against Alberta Darling) in the 8th Senate District. All four will introduce themselves to our North Shore supporters in succinct presentations, followed by a 10-minute question and answer session moderated by Edgar Lin.

All of these candidates are first rate but three of them face especially difficult races because the electoral maps Republican drew after the last census in 2010 tried to lock in Republican domination of those districts. Fortunately, in the last election cycle, the tide seems to be turning. So we have a good chance to make some inroads into the GOP dominated legislature. You can (and should) help. First attend the "picnic" turned candidate forum on Sunday, September 13 at 4:30pm (the Zoom waiting room opens at 4:15pm). Plus, display the appropriate yard signs for your district. (You can check which Assembly and Senate district you live in here.) And of course donate — even if only $5 — and/or volunteer to make phone calls or do other forms of outreach. Here's where to go to help each candidate.

Dora Drake:      donatingvolunteering

Deb Andraca:    donatingvolunteering

Emily Siegrist:  donating volunteering

Neal Plotkin:     donatingvolunteering

Unfortunately, we do not yet have signs for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, though we're making a list of those who want one. We also do not yet have signs for Dora. Keep watching this newsletter for updates on those situations. And we do have all the information you need to work for the Biden-Harris campaign.

On Thursday, September 3, our renowned MythBusters series will resume with Dr. Bill Holahan, emeritus professor of economics, demonstrating the lie that the economy under tRump was so spectacular until the coronavirus came along. The program will be available on our Facebook page at 7pm that day.

Finally, Pat Slutske has provided us with a thoughtful essay on Fascism and the tRump's administration's enactment of it. You can find the entirety of it on our website, but here's a key excerpt:

Back in 2016, I wrote an article for this Newsletter to a warn about the immanent encroachment of fascism. Now I write to shout, ‘IT IS HERE!’
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Let the Games Begin

There are many ways to get engaged with Grassroots North Shore as we head into the heart of the 2020 Campaign. Since we cannot campaign in some traditional ways, we are making as much use of alternative means as we can. So far, we have sent out more that 7500 postcards to people in Ozaukee County as well as to people in our North Shore Milwaukee County communities. And we're about to launch another postcard campaign to thousands more Democrats who live in the city. To do that, we need to buy a lot more stamps! Can you give a little? Your stamp donation will mean so much to us. And you will help Get Out the Vote!

A more time-consuming way to help is to get engaged directly with the Biden-Harris campaign. The Democratic National Convention earned rave reviews, both for it's tech prowess and for the empathetic and warm speeches from its leaders and from the ordinary Americans who make up our diverse coalition. Download a one-page pdf from the campaign to find the many ways you can help out. Once you have downloaded and opened it, you will find a host of links to get you started.

Grassroots North Shore isn't entirely forgoing tradition, though. Our annual picnic has simply morphed into a candidate forum: starring Neal Plotkin, running to boot out Alberta Darling in the 8th State Senate District; Emily Siegrist, running to oust Representative Dan Knodl in the 24th Assembly District; Deb Andraca, running to put Jim Ott in the 23rd Assembly District out to pasture; and Dora Drake, running to replace Jason Fields, who has stepped down from the 11th Assembly District.

At this virtual meeting, each candidate will give a short presentation followed by a 10-minute Q&A with moderator Edgar Lin. Bring your own food and drink and join us at 4:30pm on Sunday, September 13, to meet our future legislators. (The Zoom waiting room will open at 4:15pm.) Once you RSVP, you'll receive an email with a link for joining the virtual event.

And while you're noodling around the internet and avoiding the REAL Republican National Convention, have a giggle by visiting an ALTERNATIVE REPUBLICAN NATIONALIST CONVENTION, brought to you by Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. (And you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy it.) The group's email states that the site "exposes who they really are and what they stand for: using fear and division to hold onto power and enrich themselves, while putting our lives in danger." When you visit, you can "fill out the form to get your media credentials" and read about the GOP's "COVID-19 Safety Plan," among other delights.

The election events are heating up. The list below has many to choose from, some virtual and some in person. I hope you'll sign up for something, if not a campaign event then an issue-oriented program or a protest march. We have plenty of social justice issues here in Wisconsin that we need to address. The Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha is only the latest. Needless to say, in the current political climate, the shooting has received national coverage. Here's today's New York Times account.

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vote like there's no tomorrow!

Today's Election Day. If you have already voted, great! If you haven't yet, you have to get to your polling place before 8pm. You can look up where to vote at myvote.wi.gov.

But the bigger news is the announcement about speakers at the Democratic National Convention, now only six days away. You won't want to miss the addresses by such luminaries as Michelle Obama and her husband! You can review the line-up at Daily Kos and speculate with the pundit about what this cast of notables tells of us about Biden's VP pick. Go here to find out how to watch. (You can skip the uninformative video and scroll down the page for how-to links and information.) Hint: almost any internet connected device and service will get you there. Watch on your tv, your computer, your phone, your tablet. Use Roku or Alexa or one of the other devices I personally know nothing about. It may be a virtual event, but it's going to be fun and exciting nevertheless. Most of us would have seen it on television anyway, so having it be virtual is really not all that different. Let's show the enthusiasm the media keeps telling us we lack.

Still, there has been some grumbling about the fact that our nominee will not be coming to Milwaukee to give his acceptance speech. Some people are warning that his failure to do so echoes Hillary Clinton's lack of campaigning in Wisconsin after she secured the nomination. But conditions today are dramatically different than they were four years ago. For one thing, giving the speech here would have meant orating to an empty arena! Dr. Ian Gilson's letter to former Vice President Biden explains just why the decision is appropriate this time around.

VP Biden, I’m glad you are not coming to The DNC in Milwaukee

I am an internal medicine physician, and since diagnosing my first cases of COVID-19 in March, it has become increasingly apparent to me that the DNC had to be a virtual event. Now, 5 months later, Milwaukee and Wisconsin are COVID “hot spots,” and crowds of any size, especially indoors, are unsafe.

It is not essential for Joe Biden or his running mate to be physically present here to accept the nomination, and the potential exposure to SARS-2 coronavirus for the candidate, whose age puts him at high risk for potentially lethal complications, party officials, convention workers, and the press, is just not worth the risk. The very act of conducting a virtual nomination and campaign is a powerful example of the responsible leadership we need from our leaders to stop this unprecedented natural disaster.

The COVID pandemic has been unnecessarily made far worse by willful violation by President Drumpf and his associates of basic public health imperatives like masking, distancing, and avoiding mass campaign events.

While the absence of “in the flesh” campaigning — and the excitement of a national convention in our key swing state — is naturally disappointing, it is necessary.

The contrast should be obvious to Wisconsin voters this November.

Ian Gilson, MD
Shorewood

Looking ahead, there are several things you can and should be doing right now and in the near future. For one thing, we need people to volunteer for the next Weekend of Action, on August 30 and 31. I'll be sending out links to sign up in next week's newsletter, but please mark your calendars now. Shifts on the Virtual Phone Banks will begin at 9am, 12pm, 3pm and 6pm on Saturday. On Sunday, they will begin at 12pm, 3pm, and 6pm.

The changes at the US Postal Service, including the new price of stamps for absentee ballots, are disturbing and may be disruptive in November. Jamelle Bouie at the New York Times has an op-ed today, "How to Foil Drumpf’s Election Night Strategy", that is worth your time to read. He discusses how to thwart Drumpf's loudly telegraphed strategy to claim victory on November 3 and to insist that only ballots counted that day are valid. Voting absentee, however, is still the safest way to cast your ballot. And that's why we strongly recommend that everyone voting absentee do two things:

  1. Fill out your ballot as soon as you possibly can (and don't forget you need to sign your certification envelope and you need a witness to sign it and include her address on it too);

  2. Use a drop box or drop location in your community rather than putting your ballot in the US mail.

Just in case you're unsure about how to complete an absentee ballot, you can watch a quick video. Share it widely. And as always, sign up for an activity or event and get engaged!

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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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