Here and Now 2020

Wisconsin Officials Prepared for Possible Voter Intimidation

By Will Kenneally

November 2, 2020

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Milwaukee voters in line

Milwaukee voters waited in line for hours as the city goes from 180 polling sites to five amid the COVID-19 pandemic April 7, 2020.

Wisconsin officials say they are prepared for, but have seen no evidence of, election interference a little more than 24 hours before the polls close in Wisconsin.

“I’m confident that the process is going to be safe tomorrow and that things are going to go smoothly,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul in a pre-Election Day conference call. “But we’re also prepared in case issues do arise.”

Kaul said law enforcement agencies will continue to monitor potential threats through a statewide intelligence center, but as of Monday there was no information of any credible threats affecting voters Tuesday.

Mayors from five of Wisconsin’s largest cities—Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha—added that their municipalities had not seen any threats of violence surrounding the election.

“We’re monitoring very closely, but we’re not aware of any particularly specific threats,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

On Friday, a caravan of cars with pro-Trump flags circled a Biden campaign bus in Texas, and a pro-Trump caravan was reported driving around the Capitol square in Madison Sunday.

“We will work to protect everybody’s right to make their views known and to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Kaul said. “Where the line gets crossed is when you go from exercising your own rights to threatening somebody else’s safety.”

He added that “if you use force or threatened to use force to prevent somebody from voting, or if you put somebody in a state of duress to prevent them from voting, that’s a felony.”

“Anybody who commits that crime should be prepared to be investigated and to spend time behind bars.”

This is ahead of an election where more than 1.8 million Wisconsinites have already voted. According to data from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, that includes more than 1.2 million who voted by mail.

The polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.—which is the deadline by which voters must be in line to vote, or absentee voters to return their ballots.

This also comes ahead of a rally President Donald Trump is holding in Kenosha Monday night. In 2016, the county went for Hilary Clinton by just 238 votes.

The president has consistently trailed his opponent Joe Biden in Marquette Law School polls taken over the summer and fall, but remains within the margin of error.

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