KENOSHA ⏤ More than 50% of the electorate in Wisconsin’s five largest cities have cast early ballots for Tuesday’s election.
The mayors of those cities ⏤ including Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and Racine Mayor Cory Mason ⏤ recently announced a challenge. The friendly challenge pushed each city to see how many absentee ballots they could receive before Election Day.
In the end, Mayor Satya Rhodes Conways of Madison came out on top. Madison saw 62.8% of registered voters take part in early/absentee voting.
However, for Mason, the true winner is the people.
“The real winner in all of this is voters,” Mason said. “And our democracy.”
“People came out in force and voted,” Antaramian added. “And that’s important.”
Each city participating ⏤ Kenosha, Racine, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison ⏤ saw more than 50% of registered voters cast ballots. The three southeast region cities remained within 5% of each other as of the Monday conference.
The cities’ ranks as of Monday were:
- Madison – 119,965 ballots cast, 62.8% of registered voters
- Green Bay – 30,543 ballots cast, 54.3% of registered voters (results as of weekend)
- Kenosha – 29,001 ballots cast, 54% of registered voters (results as of the weekend and may be updated by tomorrow morning)
- Racine – 20,195 ballots cast, 51.6% of registered voters
- Milwaukee – 162,128 ballots cast, 50.9% of registered voters
Concerning the first-place prize, James Burnett of Kane Communications Group, who emceed the conference, stated the winner gets the “same thing that all five mayors and anyone who cares about the system and process working as it should gets.”
“The satisfaction of knowing that record numbers of Wisconsin residents in the largest cities across the state came out to vote early, perform their civic duty and exercise their right,” Burnett said.
Antaramian praises poll workers
While Kenosha pulled ahead of Racine at third place with 29,001 ballots over Racine’s 20,195, there is a great deal of pride in both communities for how voters actively participated this year.
Antaramian is particularly proud of the participation “especially today because of COVID and the health issues that are out there.”
“I also want to thank the poll workers and the people who’ve been involved,” he said. “I don’t think people realize the amount of work that all of these folks are doing and have had to do to make sure that we’re able to pull this off in a way that was safe and fair and that everyone got a chance to vote.
“And that’s still the goal for all of us, to make sure that the public knows that elections are safe, that they’re fair, and that it’s important for them to vote.”
Antaramian encouraged those who haven’t taken advantage of early voting to get out to the polls Tuesday.
“It is so important for those of you who haven’t voted yet to get and make sure you vote tomorrow,” he said.
For more information on voting in Kenosha tomorrow, visit https://www.kenosha.org/departments/city-clerk-treasurer/elections.
Election Heroes Day
The mayors also declared Monday Election Heroes Day, “in honor of everyone who is making this election possible,” Burnett said.
“It’s so important for people to understand how many people have stood up and volunteered to make this happen,” Antaramian said. “And that really is the whole concept of a free country; people stepping up to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to vote.
“From my perspective, I just want to thank all the people. Everyone who has stepped up here to work every day to make sure that people could vote safely. I just want to say thank you. I don’t know there’s much else we can say, but thank you for all your hard work and participation.”
In Racine, there will not be a single department “where we won’t have staff participating in the election tomorrow,” Mason said.
“Led by the clerk’s office, who so easily brought us through the last few weeks of early voting and in big preparation for a historic day tomorrow,” he added.
He also thanked the hundreds of volunteers who will be helping at the city’s 14 polling locations ⏤ “some of whom are in high school and eligible to vote for the first time themselves; some of whom will have been poll workers for decades.”
“So thank you a thousand times. They are heroes for our democracy.”
Racine sees 12% increase in new voters
The city of Racine benefited from the challenge in more ways than one. The city not only received a high number of early voting ballots, but also a significant increase in new voters to the tune of 12%.
“That’s a pretty big number for us,” Mason said. “A lot of young people voting, but other people who are not just at 18 or 19 years old who haven’t voted before who decided to register, so we’re really excited about that.”
With more than half of registered voters already casting ballots, Mason also expects Election Day to run more smoothly concerning social distancing.
“It’s been a real joy to do this,” he said. “Tomorrow is really a sacred day in our democracy. It’s Election Day where the voters decide how to reshape our country and who the elected officials are going to be who are going to move us forward.”
“And it’s really an awe-inspiring thing to be apart of and still figure out how to do that as safely as possible in the midst of this pandemic.
Like Antaramian, he, too, made one final call for people to vote at the polls tomorrow.
“This is a sacred opportunity that we all have in our democracy tomorrow to imagine what the future will be like,” Mason said. “And I just want to encourage everyone to vote.”
Absentee ballots still out
Mason noted that, like Milwaukee’s 20,000, the city still had a number of absentee ballots that had not been returned as of Monday.
“Almost 20% of the ones we mailed out have not been returned,” he said.
Voters have the opportunity to return those ballots by 7 p.m. to one of the 16 drop boxes set up around the city. Visit https://www.voteracine.org/ to view the drop box locations.
Voters will need to return their absentee ballots to their polling place after 7 p.m. You can double check your polling place at myvote.wi.gov.
Curbside voting will still be available on Election Day.
In Kenosha, voters must return their absentee ballot to either the municipal clerk’s office or a city drop box. City drop boxes in Kenosha are available until 7 p.m. on Election Day. After 7 p.m., absentee ballots must be returned to the clerk’s office at 625 52nd St. in Kenosha.
Safety and security at the forefront
Each of the five mayors stressed their goal is to provide safe and healthy voting locations on all fronts.
Threats of intimidation or militia presence included.
“For the city of Kenosha, all of us have been working on this to ensure that our communities are safe,” Antaramian said. “Not just the Attorney General, but the district attorneys have all been working together. There’s a number of people who work with police, sheriff. Everyone has been contacted, put together plans to make sure people are safe and that there is no intimidation.
“So I am very comfortable also in stating that we’ll have a good election tomorrow, and a safe election.”