Wisconsin Weekly: Turnout down, but Milwaukee’s Black voters leapt hurdles to vote

MKE turnout; flash drive kerfuffle; COVID-19 claims treasured community member; no evidence of widespread vote fraud; conflicting reactions to Biden victory

Of note: This week we highlight a story that examines the get-out-the-vote efforts in Milwaukee’s Black community and why they fell short. The story was reported by Wisconsin Watch’s Anya van Wagtendonk, with assistance from Nora Eckert and Bram Sable-Smith. They found that efforts to increase voting in the city failed to boost turnout from 2016, when measured in raw votes. That year, low turnout in Milwaukee was cited  as a factor in Donald Trump’s narrow win in Wisconsin. Advocates said fear of the pandemic and resulting lack of person-to-person engagement hampered efforts to get out the vote on Nov. 3. 

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Sue Vliet for Wisconsin Watch

Antoinette Jackson and her sister Elita Williams enjoy coffee and donuts after they cast their votes at Washington High School in Milwaukee on Nov. 3, 2020. A Wisconsin Watch analysis found turnout in majority-black wards in Milwaukee was down from 2016. Advocates blamed fear of contracting COVID-19, lack of face-to-face voter engagement and suspicion of mail-in voting, the method most Wisconsin voters used on Nov. 3.

‘Proud of my city’: Turnout down, but Milwaukee’s Black voters leapt hurdles to vote

Wisconsin Watch — November 11, 2020

Early in the morning on Election Day, Angela Lang stood in a conference room in the offices of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities on Milwaukee’s north side, addressing nearly two dozen staff members and volunteers. It was the first time the team was together in the building since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, said Lang, the group’s executive director. They were gathered on Nov. 3 to build on months of community organizing to get out the vote among African-American voters. But voter turnout was stagnant in Milwaukee — and down in primarily Black neighborhoods, a Wisconsin Watch analysis found — at a time when the number of votes cast statewide soared above 2016 levels.

Angela Major / WPR

Workers count absentee ballots Nov. 3, 2020, at the Central Count facility in Milwaukee. A temporarily misplaced flash drive at the Central Count facility has led to unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the counting of absentee ballots in Milwaukee. State and city election officials say there is no evidence of any tampering with vote totals.

Misplaced Milwaukee flash drive morphs into false charges of vote fraud

Wisconsin Watch/First Draft — November 12, 2020

As a tornado of disinformation regarding the vote count has descended on Wisconsin, political spinmeisters have seized upon a lapse by a Milwaukee election officer to falsely claim evidence of voter fraud in a critical swing state decided by a little more than 20,000 votes. Claire Woodall-Vogg, Milwaukee’s chief election official, briefly misplaced a flash drive containing vote counts on Election Night. And although Woodall-Vogg assured state elections officials the flash drive was never left unattended, questionable websites twisted the incident to claim vote fraud.

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‘She was our treasure’: A pioneering Milwaukee woman with Down syndrome died alone from COVID-19, devastating her close-knit family

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — November 8, 2020

When Anne Carley Gallun answered her niece’s call one day in late June, she wasn’t herself. Usually cheery and inquisitive, Gallun was confused and didn’t recognize Maggie Haddock’s voice, even though they spoke daily. Haddock thought her 71-year-old aunt was having a stroke. Doctors later realized COVID-19 had its grip on her lungs. Separated from her close-knit family, Gallun would die two weeks later, disoriented and isolated. It was a tragic end to Gallun’s vibrant, barrier-defying life as a person with Down syndrome. 

Angela Major / WPR

A supporter of President Donald Trump holds a sign as he speaks to a reporter Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in front of the Wisconsin state Capitol.

Wisconsin clerks reported 238 possible voter fraud cases since 2016

WPR — November 10, 2020

An analysis of reports from state elections officials by WPR shows Wisconsin municipal clerks flagged 238 possible cases of voter fraud in the state over the past four and a half years. Those possible cases occurred over several major elections in which more than 12 million cumulative ballots were cast, according to annual reports from the Wisconsin Elections Commission to the state Legislature. In related coverage, New York Times reporters called every state to ask about evidence of fraud or irregularities that played a role in the outcome of the presidential race. They found none.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Madison resident Alfonzo Noble participates in a car parade around the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Nov. 7, 2020. Earlier in the day major media organizations had called the presidential election in favor of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Jubilation and outrage: How Wisconsinites reacted to news of Joe Biden’s presidential victory

Wisconsin Watch — November 9, 2020

Wisconsinites gathered on Nov. 7 to celebrate or protest — depending on their politics — former Vice President Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin Watch photographers captured scenes in Madison and Milwaukee in the hours after media organizations called the race. In a sometimes tense scene, Trump supporters at a “Stop the Steal” rally and Biden supporters celebrating his win both gathered at the state Capitol.

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