WAVE Educational Fund Hosts Community Healing Discussion Series
Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Did you vote in Wisconsin’s most recent election earlier this month? Despite the COVID-19 crisis over 19,000 in-person voters made the choice to let their voices be heard on Tuesday, April 7th. Governor Tony Evers requested an executive order to have the absentee ballot due date extended as well as a postponed in-person voting date but was overturned by Wisconsin Supreme Court.
With coronavirus disproportionately affecting the Black community and the history of voter suppression in this country, it was difficult to find the words to address this reality with our audience. In search of hope and more information, I attended a community meeting via Zoom hosted by Deja Garner, Community Outreach Coordinator at Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort Educational Fund (WAVE Educational Fund). WAVE Educational Fund is a non-partisan, statewide organization that has been preventing gun violence since 1997.
Fifteen guests attended the first discussion series titled Community Healing During COVID-19. The conversation began with election day issues as people shared their biggest concerns including not receiving their requested absentee ballot, the lack of Milwaukee polling places and how lives were simply not considered by the Supreme Court, demanding the election go forth during this time. Those who stood in line and experienced voting at Riverside and Washington high schools gave remarks on the crowded atmosphere. One voter noted it was nice to see a fire ignited in the individuals using their right to vote.
Other concerns involving absentee ballots were expressed as there are pending investigations against postal services. Usually having a return rate of 90% in Wisconsin primary elections, only 72-77% of absentee ballots were accounted for. Clear information was not given regarding witness signatures and ballot return dates either.
The decision to have only 5 polling places open in Milwaukee fell heavy on Executive Director of Milwaukee Election Commission, Neil Albrecht. With a large number of voting volunteers above the age of 60 and the known effects the virus has on elderly, workers were encouraged to stay home. Out of 1,400 that normally assist at the polls, 400 did show up.
Towards the end of the hour long discussion, attendees brainstormed for ways to combat voter suppression in the future, especially for the remaining 2020 elections on August 11 (Partisan Primary) and November 3 (General and Presidential).
If you would like more information on voting please visit myvote.wi.gov
For more information on WAVE Educational Fund please visit their website at https://waveedfund.org/