Milwaukee Election Commission executive director retiring, Mayor Barrett nominates successor

MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin Elections Commission voted on Wednesday to mail absentee ballot applications to most voters for the November election.

When those election changes take effect, it will be under new leadership in the City of Milwaukee. Neil Albrecht is retiring as the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission -- a position he has held since 2012.

Neil Albrecht

In Albrecht's roughly 15 years of working in the world of administering Milwaukee's municipal elections, the one that took place in April 2020 was full of challenges that changed by the day.

"Controlling every aspect of an election presents many challenges. Doing that amidst a pandemic creates additional challenges," Albrecht said.

Albrecht will be staying on in a consulting role as the city prepares for November's general election.

"I want that level of success to continue. I want to ensure voters in the City of Milwaukee have greater access to voting, and their ballot, than they did in the April election," said Albrecht. "I want everything we experienced in April to be a learning lesson and for us to employ those lessons learned."

Election Day on Milwaukee's north side (April 7, 2020)

The person tapped by Mayor Tom Barrett to replace Albrecht is excited but aware of the challenges ahead.

"It's a challenging environment, adding a layer of a pandemic to it, but I think it's something that we do well, and we continue to always strive to do better," said Claire Woodall-Vogg, Milwaukee Election Commission executive director nominee.

Claire Woodall-Vogg

On Wednesday, Barrett officially tapped Woodall-Vogg to fill Albrecht's shoes. She has been with the Milwaukee Election Commission for nearly eight years, handling voter registration and central counts.

"Throughout my time at the (Milwaukee) Election Commission, I have watched more and more hurdles be created for voters and especially voters that are living in poverty, voters that move frequently," Woodall-Vogg said.

Addressing those hurdles, Woodall-Vogg says, is a challenge that needs to be handled head-on.

"My mission is to make voting accessible and to try to remove those barriers by providing education, by providing increased access and really simplifying the voting process as much as we can so that voters can navigate the complexities of election law in Wisconsin," said Woodall-Vogg.

Albrecht thanked all of his staff's hard work over the years, but made a note not to forget the "unsung heroes" of elections -- the election workers.

Woodall-Vogg's cabinet appointment by Barrett must still be confirmed by the Milwaukee Common Council.