Wisconsin Weekly: WI’s pandemic election, missing absentee ballots, hospital debt collectors pause

Portrait of a pandemic — in pictures and words

Of note: This week we highlight important coronavirus reports produced by Wisconsin Watch’s reporters, photographers and editors.  With our partners at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, we reported on voters of color debating whether it was safe to go to the polls. We documented the state’s historic pandemic election in photos, video (including from a drone) and stories. And, with our partners at PBS Wisconsin and WPR, we revealed that hundreds of absentee ballots — perhaps more — were never delivered to voters. Additionally, as a follow-up to a joint effort with WPR, we reported on hospitals that have now suspended lawsuits to collect on debts during the pandemic.

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Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Despite the pandemic, these Milwaukee residents showed up to vote at Marshall High School on April 7. Pictured from left to right: Fred Real, Glenda Davenport and Greg Michel.

Portraits of a pandemic: Milwaukee voters go to the polls

Wisconsin Watch — April 8, 2020

Milwaukee voters turned out by the thousands to cast their ballots Tuesday during an extraordinary time in history when most residents are staying home under the governor’s “Safer at Home” directive. Risking their health, these Milwaukee residents — many clad in protective gear — showed up. They waited, sometimes for hours, to participate in democracy. 

Courtesy of Scott Botcher

Fox Point Village Manager Scott Botcher said this photo is of the 175 absentee ballots that were returned by the postal service to the village on Election Day — too late to be sent to voters.

Returned to sender: Postal officials investigating Wisconsin absentee ballots that were never delivered

Wisconsin Watch — April 8, 2020

Fox Point officials say scores of ballots did not get to voters after the post office repeatedly returned them. The U.S. Postal Service is investigating.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Musicians Olu Sijuwade, left, and Guy Fiorentini play jazz to entertain voters waiting in line outside Riverside High School in Milwaukee on April 7.

Through the photographer’s eye: A journey from countryside to cityscape during Wisconsin’s pandemic election

Wisconsin Watch — April 10, 2020

Wisconsin Watch photographer Coburn Dukehart and reporter Lauren Fuhrmann documented scenes from Door County to Milwaukee during the election on April 7.

Coburn Dukehart and Lauren Fuhrmann / Wisconsin Watch

Voters stand in a blocks-long line as the Milwaukee city skyline rises in the background on April 7, during the primary election.

Wisconsin’s pandemic election: Long waits, face masks as voters go to polls

Wisconsin Watch — April 7, 2020

Wisconsin’s election during the coronavirus pandemic was marked by lines of voters stretching for blocks on Tuesday in Milwaukee and frustration that some residents were forced to choose between risking their health and relinquishing their right to vote.

Gretchen Brown / WPR

Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee is seen on Nov. 1, 2019.

Hospitals dismissing lawsuits during coronavirus pandemic

Wisconsin Public Radio/Wisconsin Watch — April 6, 2020

Two Wisconsin hospitals that filed medical debt lawsuits against dozens of patients during the coronavirus pandemic are dismissing some of those lawsuits following an earlier WPR/Wisconsin Watch story that revealed the practice.

Dee J. Hall / Wisconsin Watch

Brook Soltvedt, a Madison, Wis., election inspector, shows the gear she will need to run Tuesday’s election — including latex gloves, face shields, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Photo taken April 6.

‘People are going to get sick from this’: Fear, uncertainty cloud pandemic election

Wisconsin Watch — April 6, 2020

A Madison election inspector took extreme measures to get ready for in-person voting during the coronavirus crisis. And in Milwaukee, voters of color, hard-hit by the pandemic, decided whether it was safe to vote. 

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