-By Barbara Miner
June 5, 2012- A dimly lit, former nightclub at 24th and North is one of several Milwaukee locations that may hold the key to today’s recall election.
The building is at the heart of get-out-the-vote organizing by Wisconsin Jobs Now, a non-partisan group that has been using the former Amistad club since May 21 to coordinate the work of hundreds of volunteers.
Tuesday, the building was a swarm of activity — volunteers canvassing neighborhoods to remind people to vote, drivers with 15-passenger vans taking people to the polls, volunteers answering phone calls and relaying names of those needing rides. There was even a mobile billboard driving around the city to remind people to vote.
If mid-morning reports from several central city polling locations are any indication, the efforts are paying off. Turnout was high, with scores waiting in line to both register and vote. In the enthusiasm of the moment, some even compared turnout to Obama’s election in 2008.
While the Walker campaign has clearly dominated in terms of money for advertising, Barrett's supporters have people power and troops on the ground. Unions, churches and concerned citizens, knowing that the City of Milwaukee vote is essential, have focused their efforts on getting out the vote. Months of organizing have come down to this day.
By 8:30 a.m., organizers at the 24th and North site had the names of more than 700 people wanting rides — “and calls are still coming in,” noted Janet Veum, a spokesperson for Wisconsin Jobs Now.
One of the main tasks was driving people to the polls, a necessary effort in a central city where many residents do not own cars and others are unsure where they should vote. Drivers were trained in necessary legalties, and it was made clear their job was to get people to their polling location regardless of whom they supported in the election. Equally clear, but unspoken, was the fact that most central city voters are Democrats.