Milwaukee communities prepared to tackle election

Although the 2000 Presidential Election wasn't as ill-carried out in Milwaukee as it was in Florida, its rocky progress here inspired allegations of mismanaged election centers understaffed with poorly-trained employees.

This time around, however, elections officials are working to make sure things turn out differently.

For instance, the chief inspectors at each of the Milwaukee metropolitan area's approximately 250 polling places have received training from the State Elections Board, according to Janice Dunne, manager of the Milwaukee County Election Commission.

In 2000, some but not all of the chief inspectors had had the training because it was not mandatory, Dunne said. The training has now been made mandatory for the 2004 election, so all chief inspectors have received it, she said.

The chief inspectors in the city of Milwaukee also received additional training from the city, according to Dunne and Mayor Tom Barrett's press secretary, Carlene Orig.

Additionally, Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann will have 40 assistant district attorneys out in the community to address any voting issues that may arise at polling places.

McCann said they will confer with chief inspectors at each polling place about proper identification materials for registration or voting qualification. Also, they will help with voters who may have been redistricted since last voting.

"People won't have to wait in line to vote for an hour and a half and be told they're in the wrong precinct," McCann said.

Since there are only 40 assistant district attorneys on assignment on election night and over 250 polling places, McCann's office and the city Elections Commission worked together to determine which polling places would likely be most in need of their assistance, McCann said.

One assistant district attorney will be at the Alumni Memorial Union all day, and another will likely be at the Milwaukee Public Library, according to McCann.

The number of poll staffers at each location has not changed since the 2000 election, according to Orig.

However, she said the polling places will be better prepared thanks to more training and more volunteer assistance from businesses and civic groups.

"Of course the city's going to be prepared," Orig said.