GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A Green Bay alderman says he will introduce a request for an independent investigation into the Spring Election, stating that the city “potentially engaged in voter suppression, disenfranchisement, and COVID-19 related physical endangerment due to its decisions, actions, and inactions” on Election Day.
According to a Facebook post from Alderman Chris Wery of Green Bay’s District 8, the investigation is necessary because “We deserve answers why there were 4 hour lines to vote and why a city of 100,000 people was forced into only 2 polling locations when our Governor ordered social distancing.”
Green Bay residents did experience long lines at Green Bay East and West high schools on Tuesday, while some telling WFRV Local 5 they had waited in line for hours.
Wery’s request, which he says he will introduce to the city council on Thursday, says the City of Green Bay’s Common Council is “requesting the post-investigation report…would address” numerous matters, including why citizens, groups, and National Guardsmen were turned away from working the polls; why only two polling places were used; how absentee ballot processing was addressed; if federal, state, and county officials were consulted and their resources utilized; why the city’s social media was not updated to reflect new voting information; and any other relevant information “regarding failures and opportunities.”
Wery goes on to say that “If the council does not agree to support this, I will move on it as a citizen.”
Early Wednesday morning, Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich released a statement on Facebook, saying, “Yesterday’s election was an incredibly difficult one for those who voted in-person and for those who administered it. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for bearing a heavy burden during a frightening and dangerous time. The several hour wait times we witnessed were devastating to watch and much more difficult to experience, I’m sure.”
Mayor Genrich went on to explain that the decision to only use two polling locations for Green Bay “was not an option we chose eagerly.”
“In fact, it was our last resort. Our contingency plan, once first realizing a significant decline in available poll workers, involved the use of our four high school gyms. That number fell to two locations as the number of experienced and trained poll workers fell further. We had the option of bringing inexperienced individuals into the process, but our city clerk and I did not feel comfortable implicating untrained city employees, members of the public, or members of the National Guard in a dangerous and stressful environment.”
To read Mayor Genrich’s full statement, click here.
James Fitzgerald, Chairman of the Brown County Republican Party, released a statement following Tuesday’s election, saying:
“I reached out to Mayor Genrich on March 30, imploring him to apply all the necessary resources to run a smooth election on April 7, and heard nothing. Today, we see the results of his inaction. While other large municipalities, including Madison, had no difficulties processing the vote today, Green Bay, fell short leaving long lines and frustrated voters. Mayor Genrich’s refusal to use trained National Guard’s men and women exhibited a classic failure in judgment and leadership. We applaud all the resilient poll workers who persevered the integrity of the ballot box.”
The Wisconsin Elections Commission is already working with the U.S. Postal Service to locate absentee ballots that never made it to voters in time for Tuesday’s deadline, including three bins in the Oshkosh and Appleton area, according to top elections official Meagan Wolfe.
For continuing coverage of Wisconsin’s Spring Primary, visit Your Local Election Headquarters.