Get Out the Vote – Wisconsin

Get Out the Vote – Wisconsin

Voting is essential to democracy and Mercy Housing Lakefront believes it’s vital to help residents take part. With the help of supporters, staff, and volunteers we helped to register voters, get absentee ballots, mail-in ballots, and support voter turnout at all nine Wisconsin communities that we serve.

We have already registered over 647 residents and counting! As a 501(c)3, Mercy Housing is a nonpartisan organization — every step of the way, we made sure that this is an opportunity for residents to participate and learn about the issues in the election on their terms.

The Need

New voter registration had been down since the pandemic began. The April 7 primary election during Wisconsin’s shelter-in-place order overwhelmed the absentee ballot system. Tragically, many voters didn’t get a ballot in time. Requesting an absentee ballot was challenging for some voters because of Wisconsin’s voter ID law — not all eligible voters had the means or the know-how to upload photos. Due to COVID-19, Wisconsin experienced a shortage of poll workers too, forcing people to stand in line for hours. Many potential voters were turned away unable to cast their votes. Mercy Housing wants to make sure that this doesn’t happen to residents.

Partnerships Make it Happen

Thanks to the Higher Path Foundation for providing a $10,000 grant that enabled us to purchase Chromebooks and hotspots to jumpstart our Get Out the Vote initiative. The grant also supported Common Ground of Southeast Wisconsin, who provided staff training and technical support.

How It Works

In partnership with Common Ground, Mercy Housing trained staff on how to have voter registration conversations and shared critical details about the online voter registration process. Our 2020 Get Out the Vote campaign has already been a big success thanks to everything that the staff has done:

  • Hosting voter education forums for residents to help them with registration and requesting an absentee ballot.
  • One-on-one help to complete the registration process/requesting absentee ballot.
  • Tracking registration data for all residents.
  • Passing out “I Will Vote” stickers to encourage residents to vote.
  • Calling all residents after ballots have been mailed to remind them to fill it in and where the closest drop box is or how to return via mail.

These efforts couldn’t have happened had it not been for the dedication of onsite staff and residents. Their in-depth understanding of communities helped us keep voter registration and education safe with social distancing protocols while getting more voices heard.