By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The presidential election is just over a week away. In Wisconsin, eligible voters were given the option of voting absentee by mail, voting early or voting on Election Day. Early voting officially began on Tuesday, Oct. 20. To kickoff the event, elected officials and Sen. Kamala Harris held a virtual rally.
There are currently 14 polling stations open in Milwaukee for those hoping to cast their ballot before Tuesday, Nov. 3. The sites opened this past Tuesday and will remain open for early voting though Sunday, Nov. 1. For locations and times, go the City of Milwaukee website.
Mayor Tom Barrett lead the kickoff event following an introduction by Onotse Oyomen, a Wisconsin Field Organizer. Barrett said that he went to the Midtown Center site, North 58th Street and West Capitol Drive, on Tuesday morning and saw hundreds of people lined up to vote.
“These individuals understand what is at stake here and every single person had a mask,” Barrett said.
Barrett said it was clear that COVID-19 is a priority to those early voters and that they need a president who takes it seriously. The impact of this pandemic has caused a toll on the economy and mental health.
“This is the most important election of our lifetime,” Barret said. “If people take this seriously there’s going to be a reversal and Wisconsin will be in the blue column where it should be.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, who concluded the event, expressed her excitement that people were lined up on the first day of early voting. The day also marked the senator’s birthday.
The soul of the nation is at stake, Harris noted, and it is important that people are reminded of that. In addition to the pandemic, America is dealing with an economic recession comparable to the Great Depression, a hunger crisis, the climate crisis and a long overdue reckoning with racism, Harris said.
“We got to elect Joe Biden,” Harris said. “We have a plan and part of it is dealing with covid.”
President Donald Trump has displayed a reckless disregard for human life, Harris said. An example being Trump’s current efforts to strike down the Affordable Care Act and his lack of plan for the pandemic.
If elected, Biden and Harris plan to focus on the working-class people of America. They want to build the working class up through education, health care, the economy and more starting with a COVID-19 plan and Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Biden and Harris want to unite America.
Those who have the right to vote should exercise that right.
“We vote to honor the ancestors. We vote because we know what is at stake. We vote because we know our power. We vote because [that’s when] change happens,” Harris said.
Harris continued, “Wisconsin you’re the key. Make sure your voice is counted and that your voice is heard.”
County Executive David Crowley, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Sen. Tammy Baldwin also spoke during the rally. They encouraged listeners to not only vote but to encourage family and friends to do the same.
“We know we have the opportunity to vote for a ticket to build back our community better,” said Barnes. “We need you to make sure all Wisconsinites have a plan to vote. Joe and Kamala can not do it alone – [they] need all the help they can get.”
Barnes said in-person voters should bring a photo ID, wear a mask and bring a blue or black inked pen (if possible).
“Our lives and the character of our country are on the ballot this year,” said Moore. “We cannot go back to our pre-COVID-19 position. We got to build back better. We got to do our part. We got to go vote.”
To find your polling station or view your ballot go to myvote.wi.gov. A photo ID is required to vote in Wisconsin, and you can register when you go to vote. Absentee ballots should be mailed by Sunday, Oct. 25.