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Wisconsin Republicans, Democrats agree to work on secure absentee voting

(The Center Square) – A new group of former Republican office holders in Wisconsin is teaming up with a group of current Democratic elected officials to talk about the difference between absentee voting and mass-mailing absentee ballot applications.

The new group, called VoteSafe Wisconsin, launched a new statewide campaign Tuesday.

“During my time as Attorney General, I spent many hours at the state Department of Justice ensuring that voting in Wisconsin was secure, and that all eligible Wisconsinites could exercise their rights if they chose to do so,” former Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. “VoteSafe Wisconsin will fight to ensure that this fall, as we continue to live through COVID-19, voters have safe and secure choices that we can all agree upon.”

Current Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is also part of the group.

“We must not let the pandemic stand in the way of fair elections,” Kaul said. “Every eligible Wisconsin voter who wants to cast a ballot should be able to do so – safely.”

Kaul and Van Hollen are the co-chairmen of the effort. But VoteSafe also has the backing of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, former Republican Gov. Scott McCallum, former Republican Congress members Tom Petri and Reid Ribble, and current Democratic State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.

The ultimate goal, the group says, is to make sure Wisconsin’s election this November is fair, secure and safe, but not just for people who want to vote by mail.

“VoteSafe WI’s bipartisan coalition is made up of principled leaders who want to make sure voters have ballot access in ways both sides of the aisle can agree on,” the group said Tuesday. “Wisconsinites should have choices so they can exercise their right to vote without putting their health on the line. VoteSafe WI is part of a national network of VoteSafe coalitions, each committed to secure absentee ballots and safe polling sites, but each pursuing those goals in a way that makes sense within their respective states.”

The security of absentee voting is a question heading into November.

Wisconsin’s Election Commission is planning to mail almost every voter in the state an absentee ballot application. The city of Milwaukee is planning something similar. In April, Wisconsin saw a record absentee voting turnout. But the state also saw problems with the Post Office being able to deliver ballots both to and from voters.

President Donald Trump added his voice to the debate over the weekend. He told Chris Wallace on Fox News that absentee voting is OK, but he has serious concerns about mass mailing of ballots and the potential for fraud.

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