|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 13, 2004|
Contact: Press Secretary, Carlene Orig at (414) 286-8531
Mayor Barrett and Election Commission Work to Prevent Voter Fraud and Voter Suppression
Milwaukee—Mayor Tom Barrett today announced that he and the Milwaukee Election Commission are doing everything they can to prevent voter fraud and voter suppression. "We are committed to running a clean and successful election," said Mayor Barrett. "We will not tolerate voter fraud or disenfranchise people's right to vote." Beginning this weekend, the Election Commission is allowing people to come to Milwaukee City Hall to cast absentee ballots. City Hall will be open to voters for absentee voting on Saturday, October 16th, from 8 a.m. to noon and again on October 30th, from 8 a.m. to noon. The Election Commission has received nearly 12,000 absentee ballots requests so far which is 50% higher than the total cast in November, 2002.
The Election Commission is training additional people to serve as poll workers on election day. The Election Commission will hold training classes this Thursday and Friday - October 14th and 15th. Classes are scheduled each of those days from 9 a.m. to 10a.m., 11 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Classes will be held in the Election Commission Conference room.
Mayor Barrett has also requested his Cabinet to become actively engaged in the November 2nd election. "I am asking Cabinet members to make themselves available to work the polls or perform tasks as requested by the Executive Director of the Election Commission, encourage all eligible employees to do the same and vote," stated Barrett.
Watchdog groups and the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office will be out in full force, from both sides of the aisle, in an effort to help prevent voter fraud and protect voter rights. Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann plans to assign 40 prosecutors to monitor polling places on election day. In the February primary, McCann assigned about 20 prosecutors to voting sites.
The Election Commission is also adding more field supervisors and technicians on election day to detect any problem areas and allow for more rapid response time if and when a machine is down thus narrowing the window of inconvenience for voters.
Election Commission Executive Director Lisa A. Artison has asked the Milwaukee County Election Commission for 938,300 ballots for the City of Milwaukee. "As head of the City's Election Commission, I want to protect a voter from being disenfranchised, stated Artison. The Milwaukee County Election Commission by law pays for and prints ballots. The County is providing only 679,500 ballots which is fewer than the amount prepared for the Presidential election in 2000. "This year's Presidential election is one of the most hotly contested races in American history", stated Barrett. "I want to make sure we don't run out of ballots because some wards have run out in the past. We also need to account for voters making mistakes at the polls and account for people registering to vote on the day of the election." Mayor Barrett also pointed out that local races on a ballot in one ward may differ from another ward so transferring unused ballots from one ward to another is not an option. Copying ballots also takes up valuable time and copied ballots can not be read by the scanners at the polls.
Mayor Barrett and Artison also stressed that poll workers may need to ask for identification at the polls because voter registration cards that were circulated, collected and then turned into the Election Commission may be incomplete or filled out incorrectly.
Employees at the Milwaukee Election Commission are working diligently to process and examine voter registration cards that are turned into the Commission. So far, the Election Commission has turned over more than 21 suspicious voter registration cards to the Milwaukee County District's Attorney's office for investigation. Citizens are also asked to report any suspicious activity or voter fraud to authorities.
For addition information, citizens are encouraged to call 286-VOTE or visit the City's website at www.milwaukee.gov