Like many others, I am taking the news about the spread of coronavirus illness both literally and seriously. We know there is community transmission in our North Shore communities. One of our members was notified by the North Shore Health Department that she needs to quarantine herself because she was in contact with someone who tested positive and who was symptomatic at the time of contact. The moral of the story is to STAY HOME. We cannot stress enough that you owe it to yourself, to your friends and family, to your community, and to your nation not to contract the disease and not to become a vector or agent of its spread.
That said, we are proceeding as if the April 7 election will take place as planned. So here's what needs to happen. All canvassing and group phone banking events have been cancelled. Instead we are hosting virtual phone banks to reach voters with a few simple messages:
- vote for Jill Karofsky for the Wisconsin Supreme Court;
- vote the whole ballot;
- vote "yes" on the criminal justice reform referendum (Marsy's Law);
- vote "yes" on the fair maps referendum on Milwaukee County ballots.
We are also encouraging people to request mail-in ballots, which they can do from home by going to myvote.wi.gov. Choose "Vote Absentee" from the items at the top of the page. Making the request is simple at least until the site asks you to upload a picture of an approved photo ID. Some people have trouble with this step. So we recommend that you use a mobile phone to take a picture of your driver's license or other approved photo ID. Then email the picture to yourself. From the email, save the picture to your desktop. You will then need to click on the website's button for uploading the photo, navigate to the picture on your desktop, and select it. Thereafter, you can track the progress of your request by returning to myvote.wi.gov and again choosing "Vote Absentee" on the home page. By the way, the last day to request a mail-in ballot is technically April 2. But because ballots have to be received by 8pm on April 7, it is not wise to wait that long. So, do it NOW.
You can also request a mail-in ballot by going in person to your city or village clerk's office and showing your photo ID at that time. Or you can vote in-person absentee (aka early voting) in most areas beginning at least by March 23. For information contacting your city or village, visit our Elections 2020/Early Voting page. Every vote cast early, either by mail or in person, represents a voter who will not be showing up at the polls on election day. And that will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus to poll workers and other voters! Voting by mail is obviously the best way to protect yourself and others, but early voting in person is next best because you are unlikely to encounter significant numbers of others voting at the same time.
In the city, I should mention, early voting is already under way at three locations: Zeidler Municipal Building (841 N. Broadway, Room 102), Midtown Center (5700 W. Capitol Drive), and Zablocki Library (3501 W. Oklahoma Ave). These sites are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the two weekends before the election — March 28 and 29 and April 4 and 5. Feel free to share that information and the information about requesting a mail-in ballot.
Needless to say, your help with virtual phone banks is more necessary than ever. So join us on March 21-22 and March 28-29. It's easy to do. Once you sign up, we'll email you with some really simple directions telling you how to access the phone bank and we'll send you a script you can use to leave messages or to talk to people. If you're being prudent and staying home (as I hope), phone banking is a way to have social interactions without giving up social distancing! You will need a computer, internet connections, and a smart phone (just to establish your log in — you can make the calls from your home phone if you like). Once you are connected to the phone bank, the name and number of the person you are to call will be displayed and you can enter information about the call on that screen. Once a call is completed, you will be directed to the next person on the list.
Now, in lieu of the usual list of events, I am instead referring those of you who continue to go out to the calendar kept by the Milwaukee County Democratic Party. In Ozaukee County, refer to the calendar the Democratic Party in that county produces. Bars and restaurants in Milwaukee County have been ordered to close "except for carryout, delivery and curbside service — an effort of elected and health officials to head off a growing number of coronavirus cases" (jsonline.com, March 17, 2020). So some of the events listed on the DPMC calendar will also be canceled. Call ahead.
Finally, some safe, stay-at-home fun for kids of all ages: a Washington Post story with videos of penguins exploring the Shedd Acquarium and links to other sites with videos of similar animal excursions. The keepers are of course supervising the outings which are possible only because the sites are now closed to the public.
Until the public health emergency has passed, Grassroots North Shore is encouraging everyone to practice social distancing. In effect, this means avoiding anywhere other people are. In short, stay home as much as possible. Wash your hands as if you had an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder! If possible, use mail order for prescription medications. Food delivery services from local supermarkets, Instacart, Amazon and others may also be a good option. Don't panic but do prepare yourselves for a period of social isolation. And check in with people you know who live alone. Using Skype, Facebook Messenger, Facebook and other video tools can help you socialize without risk. With social distancing, you are both self-protective and altruistic at the same time!