MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- Several mayors from across the state are calling on the Department of Health Services to stop in-person voting in Wisconsin on Tuesday.
The letter was sent to DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm on Sunday, a day after the State Legislature gaveled in and out within seconds during a Special Session called by Gov. Tony Evers to address voting concerns.
“We believe it would be irresponsible and contrary to public health to conduct in-person voting throughout the state at the very time this disease is spreading rapidly,” the letter stated.
The letter was signed by Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and the mayors from Milwaukee, Green Bay, Oshkosh, La Crosse, Kenosha, Racine, Appleton, and Viroqua.
Evers called the Special Session on Saturday to mail ballots to all Wisconsin voters so people would not need to go to the polls. The Legislature quickly adjourned and is recessed until Monday.
The mayors said the Legislature’ refusal to act on it and are exposing voters and poll workers to the virus.
“EVERY other state that has faced this issue during this pandemic has crafted a solution that respects democracy and protected the health of their citizens. We must do the same,” they said in the letter.
City of Madison Engineers are installing barriers at all 66 polling locations in time for Election Day.
The Madison City Clerk’s office is reminding people who do intend to vote in-person on Tuesday that many of the voting locations have changed and curbside voting is available. Hand sanitizer will be at the poll book table and the exit. Voters will not need to remove their facemasks.
For a list of polling locations in Madison CLICK HERE
Read the full letter sent to DHS:
“As leaders of communities throughout Wisconsin, we write to you to ask you to exercise the emergency powers delegated to you under section 252.02 of the Wisconsin Statutes. We implore you to implement all emergency measures necessary to control the spread of COVID-19, a communicable disease. Specifically, we need you to step up and stop the State of Wisconsin from putting hundreds of thousands of citizens at risk by requiring them to vote at the polls while this ugly pandemic spreads.
This request is urgent because, as you know, Wisconsin’s April primary election is scheduled for Tuesday April 7. We believe it would be irresponsible and contrary to public health to conduct in-person voting throughout the state at the very time this disease is spreading rapidly.
Over 1,300,000 people live in our communities and we need you to provide leadership.
We thank Governor Evers for the leadership he demonstrated when he declared a state of emergency via Emergency Order #12. We thank him for calling a special session to address this issue. In light of the Legislature’s inexcusable refusal to act, you and your department now are the sole parties in the position to prevent hundreds of thousands of voters and poll workers from potentially being exposed needlessly to this worldwide pandemic.
In his decision just days ago, Judge Conley recognized the important role you play when he said, “As much as the court would prefer the Legislature and Governor consider the public health ahead of any political considerations, that does not appear in the cards. NOR IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR A FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT TO ACT AS STATE’S CHIEF HEALTH OFFICIAL BY TAKING THAT STEP FOR THEM.” (p.36) (emphasis added)
We want to emphasize that the election has already begun. Hundreds of thousands of people have requested absentee ballots and many of those have already been returned. Those votes must be counted. The real issue now is how we conclude the election. We must still ensure that every eligible voter has the right to vote without jeopardizing their health. The most logical way to accomplish this is to mail ballots to every registered voter.
EVERY other state that has faced this issue during this pandemic has crafted a solution that respects democracy and protected the health of their citizens. We must do the same.
The lives of our constituents depend on it.”
Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee
Mayor Eric Genrich, Green Bay
Mayor Lori Palmeri, Oshkosh
Mayor Tim Kabat, La Crosse
Mayor John Antaramian, Kenosha
Mayor Cory Mason, Racine
Mayor Tim Hanna, Appleton
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Madison
Mayor Karen Mischel, Viroqua