Mayor Tom Barrett joined City leaders and Senior Vice President of the Milwaukee Bucks Alex Lasry on August 31 to announce Fiserv Forum and Miller Park as two additional early voting centers for the 2020 general election.
Prior to the development, an additional 15 early voting locations were added throughout the city. The Fiserv Forum will be used for in-person early voting October 20 to November 1. The location will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
“We are now fortunate to announce that not only have we found one, but we have found two locations that are absolutely fabulous for allowing more people to exercise their right to vote,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “Nationally, Milwaukee has become the leader by providing both Fiserv Forum and Miller Park for early voting. I don’t know of another city in this nation that is using a major league ballpark and an NBA arena for early voting— that’s how committed we are to making sure that people’s voices are heard.”
The City of Milwaukee has included the two additional early voting locations due to the anticipated increase in voter turnout for the November election and the ongoing COVID-19 health pandemic requiring that in-person voting locations comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines.
“We are excited that Fiserv Forum will be designated an early vote site,” said Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry. “The pandemic has added another barrier to voting for vulnerable communities, so this will help us make sure that everyone in Milwaukee has a safe and convenient way to exercise their right to vote. By converting Fiserv Forum into a voting location, we can make sure everyone’s voice can be heard in a safe and responsible way.”
“Voting is sacred. It’s the most important thing that we as citizens do in a democracy,” said Common Council President Cavalier Johnson. “When we vote, we determine who is going to be the person, or people, who represent us. Not just that, we’re determining who is going to set the tone for our nation, for our city, for our state. We’re determining who is going to set the laws for our society, and that’s critically important to do.”
The City of Milwaukee ordinarily sees 70% of individuals vote in-person and 20-30% individuals vote absentee. In the April election, the percentages flipped to reflect 20-30% of people voting in-person and 70% voting absentee.
Voting by mail is not the best option for every voter. Offering in-person absentee voting at larger sites offers a greater opportunity for social distancing throughout the City and furthers racial equity and access to in-person voting opportunities.
During the April election the City saw a large increase in drive through voting. Over 6,000 voters cast their ballot from their car. Miller Park will also provide safe and efficient drive through early voting for the November election. Dates and hours of operation to be announced at a later date.
“With support from the MLB and league-wide efforts to support voting initiatives, we believe that Miller Park can offer a safe, drive-through advance voting option and help reduce the strain on traditional sites due to COVID-19,” said Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger.
Both the Fiserv Forum and Miller Park will be used exclusively for early voting. The Milwaukee Election Commission has established 170 neighborhood-based voting locations for Election Day.
“Every eligible voter in this country has the right to vote, and has the right to vote safely,” said Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg. “While voting by mail is without a doubt the safest option, it’s not the best option for every voter. We had a 3% rejection rate in April due to things like ballots not being returned on time, or not having the right signatures. Being able to cast your absentee ballot ahead of Election Day, but with my staff, ensures that your vote counts and that we don’t have a 3% rejection rate on November 3.”
The Election Commission has been working diligently with its partners to recruit residents seeking work to help staff in-person absentee voting sites. The Commission is also recruiting an additional 750 Election Day workers to ensure that lines are not congested, polling places are cleaned and disinfected frequently, and that they have a safety net should staff members fall ill.