Monday, April 6, 2020 - 2:48pm

Today, Governor Evers issued Executive Order #74 postponing in-person voting for the April 7 election until June 9 and asking the legislature to meet in Special Session tomorrow.

Below is a statement from Mayor Rhodes-Conway:

I want to extend my sincere thanks to Governor Evers for taking this critically important step today to protect public health and create a safe and fair opportunity for thousands of Wisconsinites to cast to their vote. Wisconsin was the only state in the nation moving forward with an election at this point in the pandemic. With only 5 of 180 polls open in Milwaukee and with cities and towns overwhelmed with requests for absentee ballots, there is possibility of significant disenfranchisement, especially for the African-American population in Milwaukee hardest hit by COVID-19.

We know that holding in-person elections at this point would risk increasing the spread of COVID-19. Because of a shortage of poll workers, cities across the state have had to consolidate polling locations, with voters from multiple wards congregating at the same location. This further increases the risks of spreading COVID-19, and undercuts all the progress we have made in slowing the spread to date – and the sacrifices we have collectively endured to make that progress.

While absentee voting does alleviate in-person voting pressure, the backlogs Clerks’ Offices are facing from overwhelming demand mean that thousands of people asking to vote absentee may not receive their ballots in time. The City of Madison Clerk’s Office has sent out 87,323 absentee ballots, and received around 54% of them back so far – as compared to 92% received back in the April 2016 election. It’s clear that the backlog in issuing ballots has impacted voters’ abilities to return them by April 7.

Wisconsin’s early leadership promoting social distancing is showing results in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and the Governor’s step today helps maintain our progress. It is likely that Governor Evers’ Executive Order will be challenged in court today. But I believe the facts are clear that postponing this election is the only way to ensure we can hold a safe, full, and fair election.