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Sen. Fitzgerald worried Milwaukee’s SafeVote is ripe for abuse

Wisconsin Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald announces his candidacy for Congress at a community center on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Oconomowoc, Wis.

(The Center Square) – The top Republican in the Wisconsin Senate is the latest to sound the alarm over the plan to mass-mail absentee ballot applications to hundreds of thousands of homes in Milwaukee.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, on Wednesday said he is skeptical of Milwaukee’s SafeVote initiative.

“Assisting voters with registering and witnessing signatures is one thing. But these makeshift early voting locations are ripe for abuse, and I am concerned that accountability and transparency will be lacking,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.

Milwaukee’s election commission plans to mass-mail 250,000 absentee ballot applications to the homes of registered voters in Milwaukee. People would fill those applications out, mail them back and get a ballot.

Fitzgerald said without someone watching over the program, there is no telling if the voters who were supposed to get those ballot applications are the ones returning them.

“This program raises serious red flags with regards to ballot security,” Fitzgerald said.

Milwaukee’s election commission and the Wisconsin Election Commission are looking to massively expand absentee voting in November.

Milwaukee’s election managers have said in the past that voting by mail is necessary to avoid the long lines and even longer wait times that Milwaukee voters saw during the April election.

Fitzgerald said Milwaukee’s election managers are 100 percent to blame for those lines and waits.

“Furthermore it is disingenuous to claim that this program is necessary due to the chaos that took place in Milwaukee on April 7th. The mess that voters faced on that day was the direct result of decisions made by Milwaukee’s own leadership, namely [Mayor] Tom Barrett and [Election Commissioner] Neil Albrecht,” Fitzgerald said.

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