Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Should Voting be Hazardous to Your Health?

“You Can’t Vote!”, Susan M. Edman, Executive Director, City of Milwaukee Board of Election

She’s 82, breathing on oxygen, confined to a wheelchair, and for the past 12 years, or so, has
voted by absentee ballot. We’ll call her Mary Jane, because that’s her name..

It’s election day, and the ballot has yet to arrive in the mail.

Actually, Mary Jane has been searching for that ballot for two weeks, and for a while was calling
the election commission each day.

First, she heard there was some problem with the ballots, but they would be sent.
Then she heard that it was in the mail, and should arrive any day.

When it still didn’t arrive, she had her son contact the local alderman’s office. Jill Thomas, aide
to Alderman Robert Donovan, called the election commission, and then told Mary Jane’s son,
that she would probably receive two ballots now, that they’re sent by bulk mail, and you’ve just
got to be patient. Her son attempted to speak further, about this and other issues, to which she
responded that she doesn’t have time for such matters, with drug houses, and prostitution, and
what not going on in the district.

So Mary Jane took Ms. Thomas’ word and continued to watch for her absentee ballot in the mail.

Late Monday night, before election day, Alderman Donovan returned her son’s call, regarding
the ballot. At that time, Mary Jane thought she could possibly go without her morning
medications (one of which is her water pill that requires frequent rest room trips), and have her
son push her, in the wheel chair, to the polling place.

The next morning, it’s election day, and Mary Jane doesn’t feel that well, and decides that she
should stay home, and wait for someone to deliver a ballot.. Ms Susan Edman phones to find out
what ‘s going on, and to see how she could help. After several phone calls, Ms. Edman declares
that unless she goes to the polling place, she can’t vote, thereby disenfranchising one of our
senior citizens. She says that the election commission has done all that they’re obligated to do,
and basically, if that’s not good enough - tough.

She did suggest that if the state election commission ordered her to do so, she would deliver the
ballot herself, but Mary Jane would need to call them.

Her son, dutifully phoned the state election commission, and, at that office, Diane checked with
Kevin Kennedy, the head of the commission. The message again: unless you go to the polling
place, you can’t vote.

Through no fault of her own, Mary Jane was told this twice, by two election commissioners.

It is not her fault that the ballot wasn’t delivered, and because of state law, a ballot cannot be
delivered on election day.

The son, proceeded to call Milwaukee County District Attorney, E. Michael McCann. McCann
immediately assigned Assistant DA, Bruce Landgraf to investigate for criminal actions regarding
the lost ballot, and to determine if other ballots went missing.

As for Mary Jane - her son talked her into exercising her constitutional right, and did push her in
the wheel chair, to the polling place. With the help of the poll workers there, she was able to cast
her ballot, but at what cost to her health?

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