Citing fears of legal challenges, the Milwaukee Election Commission announced on Tuesday that Miller Park and Fiserv Forum will not serve as early voting sites as planned for the Nov. 3 elections.
The home stadiums of the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks were slated to host early voting from Oct. 20 through Nov. 1 to expand access to polls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission announced in a memo that a missed deadline could put votes cast at the locations in jeopardy.
Commission cites missed deadline
According to the memo, early voting sites were required to be designated by June 12. The Milwaukee Stadiums were designated on Aug. 31.
“It was a very tough decision, but the last thing I would want is city of Milwaukee voters to use those sites and then later have their ballots thrown out due to our mistake or violation of a very unforgiving state statue," executive director Woodall-Vogg said on Tuesday.
Woodall-Vogg cited during a video conference with the Milwaukee Press Club a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge William Conley rejecting requests to expand early voting, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
Bucks management disappointed
Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry expressed disappointment to the decision in a video conference.
“It’s frustrating, and it’s a disservice to the people of Milwaukee,” Lasry said. “The entire Bucks organization is disappointed. ...
“The threat of trying to invalidate an early vote site when all we’re doing is trying to make it more accessible and easier to have their voice be heard.”
Commission: GOP threat did not impact decision
The decision arrives as Republicans in Wisconsin and across the country seek to restrict voting access that would presumably favor their opponents. Wisconsin is a battleground state in the presidential election and was key to Donald Trump’s election to the White House in 2016.
Last week, Wisconsin Republican party chairman Andrew Hitt sent a warning to the Milwaukee Election Commission against allowing athletes and mascots such as the Brewers racing sausages to appear at the stadium voting sites, citing electioneering concerns.
Woodall-Vogg said the letter from the Wisconsin GOP did not factor into the commission’s decision Tuesday.
“We want residents of Milwaukee to feel complete and unwavering confidence that their ballot will be counted in the election and this action reflects that commitment,” Woodall-Vogg wrote in a statement.
Stadium access an NBA player initiative
The stadiums were among several across the country slated to expand access to disenfranchised voters and provide safer voting options amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
NBA players made voting access a central theme of the league’s restart in the Disney World bubble, with their August strike resulting in arenas opening their doors to voters in several NBA cities.
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