FILE - Early voting

(The Center Square) – It is going to be harder for some voters in Milwaukee to take the governor's advice and vote early.

Milwaukee's Election Commission late Sunday ordered three early voting locations – Zablocki Library, the Zeidler Municipal Building and the Midtown Center – closed. 

The Election Commission in a statement said it cannot continue to allow people to in-person vote during the coronavirus outbreak. 

"Due to increased COVID-19 exposure risk, the Election Commission can no longer maintain sufficient staffing levels to operate these sites in a manner that would ensure a safe or efficient public voting experience," the commission said. 

Gov. Tony Evers and Wisconsin's Election Commission have been urging voters for weeks to vote early or absentee to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

It is not clear how many people voted at one of Milwaukee's now-closed early voting sites. 

Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, said the order to close is troubling.

“Equitable access to the ballot box is the cornerstone of our democracy and ensuring that each Milwaukeean has the right to vote is of the utmost importance," Myers said Monday. "The decision to close Milwaukee’s three early voting locations leaves me with more questions than answers."

The Milwaukee Election Commission on Sunday said it "strongly recommends" that voters ask for an absentee ballot. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is April 2. Some county or city clerks have said they're seeing a shortage of absentee ballot envelopes because of the demand for absentee ballots. 

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Monday asked Evers to move the April primary back. 

Barrett said "dramatic changes" are needed to ensure that people get to cast a ballot. 

Over 200 local leaders wrote the governor a letter over the weekend saying essentially the same thing. 

The Center Square Contributor

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.