Green Bay City Clerk hoping to utilize $730K on future election preps

The funds are left over from the $1.6M grant from the Center of Tech and Civic Life
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 9:36 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Now that the country is past the contentious presidential election, local county and municipal clerks are busy getting ready for the spring elections.

“February is typically a much, much lower turnout election than what we see in November or even something like an April election as well,” said Meagan Wolfe, administrator for the Wisconsin Election Commission.

Narrowing the field for State Superintendent is the only state wide election on February 16th primary ballot.

Turnout was about 8% in 2017 for the State Superintendent race according to WEC.

This means municipal clerks aren’t seeing nearly as many voters as they did just a few months ago.

“We’ve had about 75 people come into the office and we’ve had about 2,300 people return their absentee ballots,” said Green Bay City Clerk, Celestine Jeffreys.

However, the city has a lot more money to pull off the spring elections. About $730,000 is left from the $1.6 million the city received though the Wisconsin Safe Voting Grant from the Center of Tech and Civic Life. The funds were at the center of a federal lawsuit that has since been dismissed.

“I’m really hoping council approves the extension of this grant, because I absolutely want to pay poll workers again for both the February and April election,” said Jeffreys. The council is expected to approve the funds at its next meeting on February 17.

The grant allowed the city to pay poll workers about $350 for the day on November, and hopes to provide the same compensation to poll workers this time around. The city has until June 30 to use the money.

Clerk Jeffreys also hopes to put the money towards more election outreach materials to use in the coming years and upgrades to the five drop boxes the city purchased with the first round of funds.

“We’ve had some issues with water infiltration in one or two of them. I think we’re going to need to get something that’s a little more upper Midwest friendly,” said Jeffreys.

After seeing a surge in absentee ballot use last year due to the pandemic, local and state election officials are waiting to see if it becomes a statewide trend.

“We have about 38,000 absentee ballots [state wide] that have been returned so far, so we’ll have to see what that means in terms of in person voting at the polls on election day,” said Wolfe.

According to WEC data, Green Bay received about 7,565 absentee ballot applications for Tuesday’s primary election.

Total applications in Brown County sit at 16,468 as of February 9th.

Jeffreys is also reminding people who do plan to vote in person to check their polling location, as it may have changed.

“We are still in the middle of the pandemic, that means we still have polling locations that still have concerns about welcoming the public back into their facility,” said Jeffreys.

To check your polling location, request an absentee ballot for upcoming elections, or register to vote; click here.

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