RACINE – The City of Racine and four other Wisconsin cities will share in $6.3 million in nonprofit grants to fund the “Wisconsin Safe Voting Plan.” 

The grants, awarded Monday by the nonpartisan Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), will help each municipality administer remaining elections this year amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The nonprofit receives funding from Google, Facebook, the Center for Civic Design, Centers for Democracy Network, Women Donor Network, the Voting Information Project, Rock the Vote, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Knight Foundation, and Democracy Fund.

The cities of Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay applied for the Safe Voting grant funds to support elections operations. The grant program will help municipalities prepare for and operate safe elections by investing in priorities that would otherwise be very challenging to accomplish. This includes securely opening an adequate number of voting sites, setting up drive-through and dropbox locations, providing PPE for poll workers, and recruiting and training a sufficient number of poll workers. 

All five cities – Wisconsin’s largest population municipalities – experienced logistical challenges related to the COVD-19 outbreak in holding the state’s spring election in April. In some locations, particularly in Milwaukee and Green Bay, a reduction in polling places resulted in extremely long voting lines.

“The deadly COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a global public health crisis, and seriously impaired the ability of local governments to administer safe and smooth elections,” Racine Mayor Cory Mason said in a news release. “These grants will help each municipality make investments that will ensure smooth, safe, and healthy elections in a time of a national health pandemic — which each municipality otherwise would struggle to do while facing an intense budget shortfall.”

The grants are allocated according to the city population. Racine’s share of the grants is $942,100. The shares for the other municipalities are:

  • Milwaukee: $2,154,500
  • Madison: $1,271,788
  • Green Bay: $1,093,400
  • Kenosha: $862,779

Each of the cities will use the money to support early in-person voting and vote-by-mail. This includes expanding the number of early voting sites (including curbside voting), providing assistance to help voters comply with absentee ballot requests, utilize secure drop-boxes for absentee ballots and deploy additional staff and/or technology improvements for absentee ballot processing.

The funding will also be used for poll worker recruitment, training and safety, expanded drive-through voting on election day (including signage, tents and safety measures), PPE and personal disinfectant for election workers, and voter education and outreach. This year’s remaining elections are August 11 partisan primary) and November 3 (general).

According to a statement, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of civic technologists, trainers, researchers, election administration, and data experts working to help modernize U.S. elections. CTCL connects election officials with guidance, expertise, tools, and training to best serve their communities, and ensure that the elections are more professional, safe, and secure.

To learn more, visit The Center for Tech and Civic Life.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...