UWGB students upset over early voting site controversy with city

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students are upset after learning more information about why they were denied an early voting location on campus earlier this year

Vote sign
(Photo: WBAY)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY)– University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students are upset after learning more information about why they were denied an early voting location on campus earlier this year.

Emails, first reported by The Nation magazine, show Green Bay’s city clerk opposed the early voting site partially because she thought it could give an advantage to Democrats.

On the night of the primary election in April, students said they missed class and work so they could wait in three-hour lines to vote at UWGB.

State Representative Eric Genrich, a Democrat, joined the students and pushed the city to create an early polling site on campus, but their request was denied.

A liberal activist group, One Wisconsin Now, filed an open records request for the city clerk’s emails discussing her decision. In those emails that have been released to the public, Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske said she denied the early voting site because there wasn’t enough time or money and it would take too much paperwork.

But emails between Teske and the Wisconsin election Commission also indicate she thought the site could also favor Democrats.

The students who said they tried to work with the city to address the long wait lines are very upset with the latest information.

The president of UWGB’s Student Government Association said whether it’s working around an exam, a project or a job, voting on campus is not the easiest thing to do.

“There’s a level of flexibility that students need in order to vote and the city didn’t give us that,” said Nikolas Austin, president of UWGB Student Government Association.

Austin said when the city denied the students an early voting place on campus, he felt ignored.

“They have not listened to what we need,” said Austin.

And now to find out, through newly released emails that the students were denied an early voting place partially because the city clerk thought it could give an advantage to democrats, only reaffirms what Austin and others already suspected.

“I am really glad it did come out because it shows the reasons for doing this wasn’t at all about cost or security,” said Austin. “It was all about simply the way students vote and classic voter suppression, that’s what it is.”

“As we have been fighting for this, we knew that maybe there were ulterior motives and it’s unfortunate to know that’s true,” said Nick Faust, chair of UWGB College Democrats.

They also said type-casting the university as being liberal isn’t fair.

“It wasn’t just me and the liberals last April in the primary standing for two hours,” said Faust. “I was standing there with Libertarians; I was standing there with college Republicans — people of all different political backgrounds who just wanted the right to vote.”

“Voting is for everybody, whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or anything, the right to vote is universal,” said Eric Fischer, chair of UWGB College Republicans.