Wausau Safe Elections task force discuss polling safety

Task force implements safety measures for upcoming elections
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 9:44 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -The Wausau Safe Elections task force met on Wednesday to discuss what the upcoming elections would look like with the COVID-19 pandemic. The main changes coming to the polling places will help promote voter safety. Recently, the city of Wausau received a Cares Election Grant from the state totaling more than $22,000 to help pay for unseen costs from COVID-19 like cleaning or overtime for workers due to a shortage. But right now the city should have enough workers to cover the upcoming elections.

“I do have enough poll workers that said they would come forward and would work. Then I had about 14 additional people from the community that stepped up and said they would like to help,” Wausau City Clerk Leslie Kremer said.

During the last election, Wisconsin National Guard members filled the gap for the poll workers. But right now, there are no units that are scheduled to be in Wausau for the election.

“At this point, we’ve been told that the National Guard is not at our disposal for fall elections. However the Wisconsin Elections Commission is going to put in a request with the governor to at least have them on standby in case they are needed,” Kremer explained.

The task force has also focused on fixing problems that occurred with absentee ballots and helping people to track where their ballots are.

“When the absentee ballot goes to the post office, the post office scans that label. Then we’re able to see, and the vote is also able to see right away that it’s been processed by the post office,” Kremer stated.

For safety, there will be sneeze guards at every station and only ten voters in a poll place at a time. Masks cannot be mandated at the polling locations, but task force members still encourage people to wear them when they come to vote.

“The Wisconsin elections commission has said that we cannot require voters to wear masks at the polls or if they come from early voting,” Kremer said.

The people that are most affected by those not wearing masks will be the poll workers.

“The poll worker is going to be there for the entire shift, however long that is that they’re assigned and they will be exposed to a lot more people,” internal medicine and pediatrics Dr. Larry Gordon added.

Early voting begins on July 28. A few changes to the polling locations have been made, to see those changes, click here.

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