Charlotte Goska (on right), co-leader with Ellen Reed (on left) of COVO's Voter ID team, shares the story of our partnership.
Wisconsin has seen a lot of change in the past two years. In 2016, a strict Voter ID law went into effect, after years of legal challenges. Due to a court decision in July 2016, the rules changed just months before the Presidential election, and the subsequent confusion led to voter disenfranchisement. And then in early 2017, an online voter registration system was implemented, and the previous system of Special Registration Deputies - who were trained by municipal clerks to do voter registration - was abolished.
To address the changing rules, several former Special Registration Deputies created COVO, a Coalition of Voting Organizations in Brown County (which includes Green Bay, Wisconsin). Their goal was to retain the power of the people who had previously been trained in voter registration and convert them into assistants for the online system, as well as expanding their mission to include voter education, motivation, participation in the voting process, and networking with other groups. Almost immediately the newly-formed COVO partnered with VoteRiders to address the need for education and assistance surrounding Voter ID.
One year later, COVO is making a difference in the community by establishing relationships with social service agencies, community groups, and schools. Through our partner organizations and volunteers, we conduct voter outreach events and participate in community events to offer voter registration opportunities and other assistance. VoteRiders has provided us with excellent training materials, a local helpline number (414-882-8622) to connect voters with Voter ID help, posters which can be displayed at agencies and community centers, and wallet cards that make it easy for people to check that they have a photo ID that will be accepted at the polls.
Charlotte Goska and Ellen Reed are co-leaders of COVO’s Voter ID team. They work with the other teams at COVO, including teams that focus on voter registration, outreach to colleges, a simulated voting experience for first-time voters, and a team focused on National Voter Registration Day. For all of our events, our Voter ID team is able to provide VoteRiders wallet cards and posters, so that everyone has the information they need to get assistance with Voter ID.