Superior is joining other Wisconsin cities making a major push to get more people to vote from home this fall.
On Tuesday night, the City Council approved a “SafeVote” program to directly reach out to any of the 14,000 registered voters who don’t request a mail-in ballot themselves.
“It will be my intent and goal to send an absentee ballot application to every registered voter in the city,” said Superior Mayor Jim Paine. “The first step is a public outreach campaign to get people to sign up online or come in and do it themselves. Those we aren’t reaching, we want to cast a total net.”
Paine said the effort could cost up to $10,000 and may be offset by federal money the state election commission is receiving. The expense comes as the city clerk’s office is already in the red this year and as the city faces a $700,000 projected budget shortfall due to the pandemic. Still, council members were widely supportive.
“We should be on a mission to increase voting,” said City Council Member Jack Sweeney.
The initiative follows last month’s primary election that was required to be held in person despite concerns over the spread of COVID-19. In Superior, 62% of all votes cast in that election were mailed in following a push by city officials.
“We know there’s a capability, a willingness and enthusiasm to reduce in-person voting and get our absentee numbers up,” said City Council Member Jenny Van Sickle, who introduced the measure.
Milwaukee adopted a similar program in April. Next week northern Wisconsin residents will vote to choose who will fill out the remainder of U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy’s term after he stepped down last fall. Republican state Sen. Tom Tiffany of Minocqua is facing Democrat Tricia Zunker, a Wausau school board member and Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court justice.