Wisconsin Weekly: Wisconsin GOP leaders made it harder to vote, especially for Black residents

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Voting barriers; Wisconsin polling sites up over April; rural schools ‘whipsawed’ by pandemic; investigation finds Foxconn is a con; a teen dies in custody


Of note: This week we highlight our story and a documentary that Wisconsin Watch co-produced about barriers facing voters in Wisconsin — especially Black voters — and an effort to boost turnout in one Milwaukee neighborhood. The story and short documentary feature Melody McCurtis and Danell Cross, who work for the nonprofit Metcalfe Park Community Bridges. They are providing free food, supplies — and information about how to vote.

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Sara Stathas for Wisconsin Watch

Melody McCurtis works for the nonprofit Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, which distributes free food, supplies and voting information to residents of her Milwaukee neighborhood. McCurtis urges her neighbors to vote to counteract trends that have made it more difficult for voters, particularly Black voters, to cast a ballot in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin GOP leaders made it harder to vote, especially for Black residents

Wisconsin Watch — October 21, 2020

A strict voter ID law, restrictions on early in-person voting and the COVID-19 pandemic are all barriers facing voters in the Nov. 3 election. In the past 20 years, Wisconsin has gone from the 6th easiest state in which to vote to 22nd, according to one index.

See our 10-minute film about the effort of one mother-daughter team to boost voting, Metcalfe Park: Black Vote Rising, produced in collaboration with 371 Productions and The Intercept.

Coburn Dukehart and Lauren Fuhrmann / Wisconsin Watch

The voting line wraps around the block outside Washington High School in Milwaukee during the April 7 primary election. After the city reduced its roughly 180 polling sites to five, voters reported waiting hours in line to cast a ballot. This time around, officials say they will have 1,000 more poll workers than during the last presidential election and 173 voting sites.

Most polling sites in Wisconsin will be open Nov. 3, but a few gaps remain

Wisconsin Watch — October 22, 2020

After a chaotic April primary in which just five voting places were open in Milwaukee, and voters waited for hours in long lines, the city is operating 173 out of 180 available locations for the upcoming presidential election. That mirrors an increase in polling sites statewide over April. About 50 communities are still short about 180 poll workers, of approximately 30,000 needed.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Matthias Millar, 5, foreground, and Sterling Millar, 7, hold chickens outside their father’s house in Blue Mounds. Matthias is in kindergarten and Sterling is in second grade. Both attended school virtually for the first month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They returned to class Oct. 1, but the Barneveld School District has now suspended in-person instruction because of a positive case in the district. Their sister Adara, 10, is in fifth grade.

Wisconsin schools ‘whipsawing’ as COVID-19 hits rural districts

Wisconsin Watch — October 20, 2020

For the first month of the school year, the Millar children of rural Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, stayed home. But as with many rural schools in Wisconsin, the Barneveld district where the children attend school has been forced to go online after cases of COVID-19 cropped up.

The Eighth Wonder of the World* (*wonder not guaranteed) 

The Verge — October 21, 2020

In a bombshell report, The Verge reveals that Foxconn plant in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, which stood to earn billions in state and local subsidies for its $10 billion LCD plant, is mostly a mirage with bored employees with no meaningful work killing time by racing electric golf carts around the largely empty facility. The company has not yet qualified for any state subsidies, but local governments have poured an estimated $400 million into road construction and land acquisition to pave the way for the plant, The Verge found. According to its investigation, “Foxconn recruited large numbers of local college students and foreign recent graduates on visas late in 2019 as it tried to hit the employment threshold needed to receive subsidies, only to lay off many employees once the deadline passed.”

Read more from Wisconsin Watch: Property owners near Foxconn say they were misled. Now their homes are gone

Maricella’s last breath: She died alone in a cell at 16.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — October 23, 2020

Former Wisconsin Watch intern Rory Linnane tells the tragic story of Maricella Chairez, a victim of sex trafficking who took her own life in the Racine County Juvenile Detention Center in 2017. After examining hundreds of pages of documents, including medical records, police reports and court transcripts, Linnane found that “authorities repeatedly failed Maricella, not only in her final days but for years before that. County workers often didn’t find her proper mental health care. Police downplayed her reports of sexual assault. A judge ordered her jailed the night she escaped traffickers.”

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