Empower Wisconsin | June 5, 2020
MADISON — Two months after filing an open records request seeking answers to Milwaukee’s spring election mess, Empower Wisconsin is still waiting for answers from the city’s elections chief.
As we know, the Milwaukee Election Commission was badly prepared for in-person voting on the April 7 election. It seems clear that commission members were counting on their liberal friend Gov. Tony Evers to lockdown in-person voting like he did the rest of the state during the COVID-19 outbreak. They apparently didn’t account for the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling on the side of the constitution and the right of voters to cast ballots at the polls.
What we want to know is, why the Milwaukee Election Commission put voters 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 at the time 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,” said Bernier, chairwoman of the Senate’s Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues. “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?’”
We’re still asking the same question.
On April 10, Empower Wisconsin sent Albrecht an open records request seeking all Milwaukee Election Commission communications regarding the April 7 election, with key words including: Poll workers, National Guard, Tom Barrett, Tony Evers, Wisconsin Supreme Court, coronavirus, as well as the Supreme Court candidates in the election — incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly and his liberal challenger Jill Karofsky.
Albrecht promptly replied, assuring that he had received the open records request and would “reply as soon as is practicable.”
He has yet to follow up after nearly two months. Two months is not practicable. Empower Wisconsin told Albrecht as much in an email this week.
After the election debacle, 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.
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.
Wisconsin deserves answers.