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Capital City Sunday: Trump campaign visits during DNC, VoteSafe & COVID-19 deaths

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MADISON (WKOW) -- This week see be a battle over the airwaves as both the Trump and Biden campaigns plan to speak directly to Wisconsin voters as the Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday.

While Democrats plan to have several big names speak at the all-virtual four-day event, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence plan to steal some of the limelight.

Both will be making visits to the Badger State.

Trump will visit Oshkosh on Monday, the same day the DNC starts and Pence will be in Darien on Wednesday, the day presumptive vice president nominee Kamala Harris will deliver her convention speech.

Republicans are targeting Joe Biden for not coming to Milwaukee to accept his nomination and plan to make that their message this week. 

David Bergstein, battleground state communications director for the DNC, said the reason Biden is not visiting Wisconsin is that he and other Democrats are taking the COVID-19 pandemic "seriously" compared to the Trump campaign.

“Republicans have been ignoring the science and ignoring there is a problem in this country," he said. "We are putting on an event where we can reach voters, make a big imprint in this critical state and do so safely."

Trump is already taking shots a Biden for “ignoring” the Wisconsin after Hillary Clinton famously didn’t visit the state in 2016. Bergstein argues Biden is not taking Wisconsin for granted referencing a handful of virtual events the former VP is hosting in the state.

“I think every time Trump opens his mouth in Wisconsin he repels voters," said Bergstein. "We've held hundreds of events, so we are taking nothing for granted in Wisconsin."

Democrats were eager to host the convention in Milwaukee to stress the importance of the battleground state after Clinton lost to Trump by less than 1% during the 2016 presidential election. 

There's no doubt hosting an all-virtual convention will look and feel different, but DNC officials are confident their event will still have a direct impact on voters and those in the battleground state.

VoteSafe Wisconsin

The bipartisan group VoteSafe is aiming to educate voters ahead of November, but also has broad goals to ensure voters have a safe and secure voting experience. 

J.B. Van Hollen is part of the coalition and is the former Republican Attorney General of Wisconsin. He said the No. 1 goal this election is to make sure voters have access to in-person voting sites and can securely vote absentee.

“Our elected officials have learned a lot since April and we want to make sure voters know voting in-person or by mail are good options,” said Van Hollen.

When asked how they plan to educate voters, Van Hollen said the group will do that “through word of mouth.”

Another goal of VoteSafe is making sure voters know all the steps when filling out absentee ballots, because many voters leave some requirements blank.

More than 23,00 ballots in Wisconsin were rejected during the April 7 presidential primary after voters didn't fill out their absentee ballot correctly, according to Wisconsin Watch and APM Reports.

“I think a lot of people want to vote absentee, but don’t know how,” said Van Hollen. “People need to know you have to return those ballots on time or early because it has to get through the post office in time.”

When asked about the President’s claims that expanding mail-in voting can lead to fraud, Van Hollen said there’s always room for error. 

“If you going mail a ballot to every voter absolutely it could lead to fraud, some people get multiple ballots people who are not registered to vote can then participate,” he said. 

Right now there is no evidence expanding mail-in voting leads to fraud. A federal judge in Pennsylvania is asking the Trump campaign to prove these claims by Friday.

Wisconsin Surpasses 1,000 Deaths due to COVID-19

The state has surpassed 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 according to state health officials.

That means about five people dying a day.

It's a difficult milestone and many in the medical field are continuing to face uncertainty when tracking how much longer this could go on. 

“This is concerning but it is expected giving the severity of this pandemic,” said Dr. Nasia Safdar, Medical Director of Infection Control at UW Health.

The news comes as CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield issued a dire warning that if we don’t follow recommended coronavirus measures we will be at risk of having the worst fall in U.S. public health history.

“There’s no reason to not think the fall will be bad because of the respiratory illnesses that come with the season such as the flu,” said Safdar. “This is serious and now is the time to change our behaviors.”

When asked about Trump’s claims the U.S. has the most positive cases in the world because of testing, Safdar said there is not much evidence to support that.

“Our testing is better than it was, but if you look at other countries our testing is still far below what others have done,” she said. “If you test more you’ll find more, but there is no evidence that we are testing more than others.”

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Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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