GREEN BAY, Wis. — Following media reports yesterday that the Green Bay City Clerk refused to have a satellite voting location based on her belief that ‘students lean more toward the democrats’, One Wisconsin Institute today called for the City of Green Bay to take action to address students’ ability to cast their ballot. In emails obtained by One Wisconsin Now and first reported on by The Nation, the clerk asked the Wisconsin Elections Commission if she had an argument regarding an early voting location on campus “being more of a benefit to the democrats?” after noting that she doesn’t “like the idea at all.”
“The clerk’s own words reveal that she was looking for any excuse not to make it easier for students to cast their ballots,” said Analiese Eicher, program director for One Wisconsin Institute. “The refusal to take action and open a satellite voting location on campus is even more egregious given the long lines students experienced during the April presidential primary. It is not too late for Green Bay to do the right thing and step up to help voters vote.”
One Wisconsin Institute is specifically calling on Green Bay to reconsider its rejection of an early voting site on campus and, at the very least, to also implement the following policies immediately:
- Expand early voting hours to include evenings and weekends, making it easier for all voters including students to access the one early vote location the clerk has opened.
- Ensure more poll workers are available to staff the UW-Green Bay polling location on Election Day to assist with same-day registration and with processing registered voters.
- Ensure that additional poll books are available at the Green Bay campus location on Election Day to allow more poll workers to process voters through more lines, reducing the wait times Green Bay students experienced during the April presidential primary.
Early voting statistics reported this week show that Green Bay is already lagging behind the rest of Brown County in early votes cast. And, in the April 2016 elections, voters at polling locations in Green Bay were subjected to long lines and waits of up to two hours to cast their ballots. Media reports indicated voters at UW-Green Bay still had not cast their ballots nearly two hours after the polls officially closed at 8 p.m., and some students reported they missed class and work to wait in three hour lines to cast their ballot.
“The inaction of election administrators should not create barriers to voting. It is time for Green Bay to stop making excuses and start taking simple, concrete steps to make sure every legal voter, regardless of their partisan affiliation, has the opportunity to cast their vote,” concluded Eicher.