Back in March, the Wisconsin Elections Commission barred election deputies from entering nursing homes to help residents cast absentee ballots, citing concerns of spreading Covid-19 to the elderly and disabled. That decision will carry through to the November election.
During a meeting of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission yesterday, Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson stood by the decision the commission made back in March.
“It is a disaster when this gets into nursing homes and we don’t wanna be involved in, I don’t wanna have it on my conscience,” Knudson says.
Republican Commissioner Robert Spindell, who initially pushed the Commission to reconsider its decision barring Elections Deputies from nursing homes, claimed that without any oversight, nursing homes will be hotbeds of voting fraud in the November election.
“I think it’s an opportunity here very simply to change this around so we can have something that people would feel confident in and there’s not gonna be massive fraud in nursing homes,” Spindell says, “which I’m afraid is gonna come about.”
To compensate, Spindell suggested setting up a virtual election assistance system.
Commissioner Chairwoman Ann Jacobs, a Democrat, says that creating such a system from scratch in two months isn’t feasible.
“That doesn’t exist, and I would be opposed to deciding six weeks out from an election that we’re gonna cobble together some sort of bizarre video thing,” Jacobs says.
Carmela Mulroe, the activity director for SSM Health St. Mary’s Care nursing home , says that the loss of the election deputies hasn’t affected them a great deal. Mulroe says the Clerk’s office distributed pamphlets on the requirements and process for absentee ballots, and they’ve already begun filling out forms.
“So, oddly enough, it hasn’t caused much of a change for us,” Mulroe says.
To register for an absentee ballot, Madison residents can submit a request to the Madison City Clerk’s Office by phone, mail, or email, or go online to My Vote Wisconsin at myvote.wi.gov.