Milwaukee’s election mess

Empower Wisconsin | April 13, 2020

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — Be advised: Liberals are pushing the narrative that the Republican-led Legislature has blood on its hands for not postponing Wisconsin’s spring election. 

And they can count on their old pals and public relations agents in the mainstream media to carry their tainted message. 

More so, Gov. Tony Evers’ own Department of Administration secretary is poisoning the political waters on the taxpayer’s dime. 

In an email Friday afternoon to the DOA “Team,” Joel Brennan tells his retchingly maudlin tale of how he and his wife “stood in line for two hours at a polling location in Milwaukee.” They were “among the thousands of state residents who applied for but did not receive absentee ballots.” So, the Brennans dutifully went in person to cast their votes, despite the fact that Brennan, of course, is a big fan of his boss’ unconstitutional, 11th-hour order attempting to delay Tuesday’s election. And the political hack makes clear his hatred for the conservatives, including the state Supreme Court, who stopped Evers from overstepping his authority and maintained the election as scheduled.   

“I place no blame for that on the local election officials, who worked heroically to carry out the election,” Brennan wrote. “The overwhelming demand and their limited resources are just a few reasons why the Governor appropriately called for in-person voting to be postponed. The most important reason for the Governor’s action is that no one should have to choose between voting and their health.” 

What Brennan’s political rant doesn’t take into account is that the Milwaukee Election Commission put voters like him in peril by needlessly reducing the number of city polling sites from 180 to an astounding five. All the more remarkable when we learn that Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht ultimately had many more poll workers available to him, including 200 Wisconsin National Guard volunteers, after he had bemoaned the lack of help because of coronavirus fears. 

Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) told Empower Wisconsin that Albrecht and the commission could have opened up at least 15 to 20 more polling sites. 

“What an injustice to the electors, to have to stand out there for an hour or two. They didn’t harm anyone but their own voters,” Bernier said. “If I’m a voter in Milwaukee standing in a line for an hour and a half and see the news that Madison had 60 polling places open, I’m asking, ‘What is wrong with Milwaukee? Why did they do this?’”

Albrecht offered a mealy-mouthed response about the rate of coronavirus cases and the fear associated with them to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which wholly accepted the explanation. They quoted liberal Mayor Tom Barrett, who advised critics of the voting mess not to “let them suck you in on the issue,” presumably referencing Republican lawmakers. “I asked not to do this .. I knew there would be problems. And there were problems.” 

But Barrett’s social-distancing of the truth didn’t stop the questions. 

Ald. Scott Spiker told the Journal Sentinel that he didn’t want to “pass judgment” until all the information was in, but …

“Five polling sites for a city of 600,000 in the middle of a pandemic — there’s no way that can constitute success even if you have poll workers doing their best,” he said. 

And what of much of the rest of the state, which was able to meet the challenge, including Madison?Wisconsin’s second largest city was able to staff some 60 polling locations. 

“I think first and foremost they’re two very, very different cities,” Albrecht told the newspaper. “The demographics are very different. But I think the answer is rooted in the COVID-19 pandemic and Milwaukee being at the epicenter of that pandemic.” 

Evers announced on April 1 he would use the National Guard — seven full days before the election. Election officials, particularly in the state’s largest municipalities knew Guard members could help fill important poll worker rolls. Albrecht said he originally requested 500 but then halved the amount after he found out they would be used for crowd control. 

Empower Wisconsin has filed an open records request with Albrecht’s office and the Milwaukee Election Commission seeking their communications on the election day mess. 

And still the liberal narrative goes on. Team Evers is going to make sure Republicans get the full blame. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) plans to track COVID-19 transmissions related to Tuesday’s election, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. 

“The data will show us whether or not there was significant transmission as a result of what were essentially mass gatherings at polling locations around the state,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said during a teleconference town hall with U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) 

Remember, this is the same health agency that has produced questionable data and projections during the run of the pandemic, a health agency that has not been above politics in this unprecedented time of crisis. 

Which brings us back to DOA Secretary Brennan and his email to his government employees. 

Brennan tells his sob story about how he stood the Milwaukee election line as the “warm and sunny Spring day became ominous, and then rail fell, first in a sprinkle and then a downpour.” Then there was hail, probably locust, flies and wild animals, who the hell knows with this self-important bureaucrat. The important thing to note, according to Brennan, is nobody left the line — especially not the peerless secretary. 

“I was embarrassed that we had failed as a State to do what was right to stop in-person voting that day, but I also was proud to stand with people who would not be denied their place in our electoral system,” he wrote in his government employee pep talk. “Those are the people you are working to support and assist during these tough times. They can’t say thank you for the work you are doing to assist them, but I can.” 


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