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Green Bay clerk feared UWGB early voting site helping Democrats

UW-Green Bay (WLUK/ John Doran).

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- In April, for the presidential primary, long lines greeted students who turned out to vote at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

"What did we see in April? Students having to wait in two-hour, two-and-a-half-hour-long lines in order to cast their ballot here," said Scot Ross, the Executive Director at One Wisconsin Institute.

After filing an open records request, he said he was surprised to see how decisions were made regarding early voting in Green Bay.

"People are working behind the scenes to try and deny them access to the ballot box," Ross said.

Ross is referring to emails his group received after filing an open records request with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. It shows communications between the agency and Green Bay City Clerk, Kris Teske. The Wisconsin Elections Commission also provided FOX 11 with copies of those emails.

In one email, Teske said a state representative requested an alternate polling location at UWGB.

Teske said she had concerns about staffing, ballot security and the budget.

Teske also brings up concerns about whether setting up a location at UWGB would violate state law, by providing an advantage to a certain political group.

Teske said she heard that students lean more toward the Democrats, and that the state representative is also a Democrat. She asked the legal counsel if she had an argument about the location being more of a benefit to Democrats.

"I was the one that asked for early voting, I was the one that was disappointed we didn't get it, but there's no way that Kris did anything wrong,” said Barbara Dorff, Green Bay's District 1 Alderwoman.

Dorff said she believes Teske was just making sure one part of the city wouldn't be favored over another.

"I never for a moment questioned anyone's motive when we were asking for this and when it was denied," she said.

A statement released by Mayor Jim Schmitt's office says allegations that the city clerk is attempting to curtail Democratic voting for the election are false.

There are no other alternative voting sites in the city. If residents want to vote early in person, they must go to City Hall.

Members of student-led political groups at UW-Green Bay had mixed feelings on whether or not an early voting site here on campus would be necessary.

"We are out in the woods, as we say, on campus and for students that don't have a car or work or have things going on during election day, I mean why wouldn't it make sense?" said Nick Faust, chair of the UWGB College Democrats.

"There’ s transportation to go down there. I don't necessarily see why we need to have one on campus. It would cause stress for the city as well as the university," said Sami Dannhauser, co-chair of the UWGB College Republicans.

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