Green Bay City Hall packed as alders debate election reform proposals

A proposal for reforms was met with pushback from members of the public and some city council members
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:55 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - City hall was crowded Tuesday night with folks voicing their opinion on a set of proposals aimed at the city’s elections.

Alderman Chris Wery, district 8, proposed a series of what he’s labeling as reforms to restore and ensure fair elections. They were met with support and pushback from some people in attendance creating for a lively discussion.

This effort was partly driven by the February 15th primary elections in Green Bay.

RELATED: Green Bay mayor responds to voting controversy over absentee ballot count

REALTED: Green Bay City clerk says Tuesday’s ballot counting was “open, accessible and actively observed”

As Action 2 News previously reported, an election observer saw city officials counting absentee ballots before the time posted outside for the public to watch.

Mayor Eric Genrich said at the time it was a typo.

Still, several people Tuesday night criticized the mayor and his administration by some going as far as calling for his resignation.

“When you give notice to the public, that they have the right to show up and to observe. That’s our ballot box. That’s the most important thing, the right to vote,” Janet Angus of Green Bay said.

There were others who spoke defending the city’s ability to handle elections and expressed concern regarding the proposed election reforms.

“We all have the right to engage in our civic duty. Please do not take any actions that will jeopardize voting rights for Green Bay’s disability and aging communities,” Stephanie Birmingham of Green Bay said.

In total, comments from the public went on for nearly two hours.

Here is what Wery proposed for election reforms:

1) Staff affirm that the City of Green Bay’s tabulators have no modems or internet connectivity. 

2) Refer to staff to create a policy for curing absentee ballot certificates in response to a request including what can be cured and by whom. We should keep a log book of the number of ballots cured and potentially keep a list of whose ballots were cured. 

3) Receive and place on file a request to discontinue use of any drop boxes 

4) To refer to staff to investigate, research, and report a request excluding outside money and ‘advisors’ for elections. 

5) To receive and place on file a request for no more voter navigators. This is the sole job of the clerk’s office. 

6) To refer to staff to research and report with a possible ordinance outcome a request for no city driven, targeted, election campaigns. Driving or luring certain voters to the polls is not the job of the city and can be manipulated to target only certain audiences with similar views of the ones pushing people to the polls. This does not preclude any generic ‘get out the vote’ messaging as used in the past prior to the 2020. 

7) To receive and place on file a request for any ideas ideas/suggestions from staff, alders or citizens.

Council members decided to vote on each proposal separately with some being sent to staff or placed on file. Alders voted in favor of having city staff research parameters of accepting outside grant money.

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