Green Bay public officials discuss complaints from election observers

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 10:15 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Some Green Bay public officials and citizens are already questioning the set-up of the November election, specifically the location for early absentee voting.

Some say the venue isn’t large enough to accommodate the number of observers expected at this upcoming election as Wisconsin has two closely watched races.

Republican businessman Tim Michels is looking to unseat democratic Governor Tony Evers, and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, a democrat, is seeking to flip the U.S, Senate seat currently held by Incumbent republican Ron Johnson.

Alderman Chris Wery of district 8 proposed moving the early absentee voting location to a larger venue within City Hall rather than the office of City Clerk Celestine Jeffreys.

Jeffreys handles city elections and says the deadline to change venues was on June 9th.

But at least two election observers from last month’s primary elections spoke at Thursday’s policy and protection committee claiming they found it difficult to do their jobs.

They added they also wanted to observe people dropping off absentee ballots.

”There was some concern from observers expressed in August the first day of voting that they could not hear the voters, and could not hear the clerk staff instructions and so I created a space inside the office where observers could stand and listen,” Jeffreys told alders on the policy and protection committee.

Green Bay Deputy City Attorney Joanne Bungert told alders no one was prevented from observing elections.

“People were not prevented from observing in-person absentee voting and people were not prevented from observing voting at polling locations. There was just no designated observer area for the delivery of absentee ballots, once absentee voting ceased,” Bungert said.

Wisconsin is considered a battleground state and the political races on the ballot in November are expected to draw a large turnout.

“But we could ask to solve the more immediate problem of the room, the spacing, because there’s going to be more people and there might be more observers,” Chris Wery, alderman of district 8, said. “So we need to figure out a way to handle all of this within the space that we designated.”

The committee did vote to have the city clerk put together a report on procedures and present it to the committee next month on September 22.