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District 19

Alder Keith Furman

Image of Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Contact Information

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

District 19 Blog

Office Hours This Afternoon, Voting, Library Update, Metro Transit, City Update and 2020 Census

August 20, 2020 10:30 AM

A reminder that I will be hosting virtual office hours this afternoon from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. 

Learn more about my August office hours here.

If you have a question, concern, or topic of interest that you would like to discuss, but my scheduled open office hours don't work for you, you can e-mail me.

I'm passing along yesterday's blog post by the Mayor that does a great job of talking about the November election and the work the City is doing to make sure everyone can vote:

Overcoming Federal Election Subversion

From Mayor Satya's Blogs

Today I submitted a letter to Post Master General DeJoy demanding answers regarding operational changes to our local post offices that are causing concerns about the return of absentee ballots for the upcoming November Presidential election. Due to recent changes, the USPS cannot guarantee that all ballots cast by mail will arrive in time to be counted. This forces Wisconsinites to choose between exercising their constitutional right to vote and protecting their health during a pandemic. You can read the entire letter here.

Prior to DeJoy's actions, I secured a $1,271,788.00 grant from the Center for Tech & Civic Life to be used exclusively for the public purpose of planning and operationalizing safe and secure election administration in the City of Madison. I am grateful to the leadership of the Clerk's Office and poll workers for actively putting that grant into action.

Some of the ways we are already working to balance the health and safety needs of Madison residents during the coronavirus pandemic with the essential right to vote include:

  1. Encouraging and increasing absentee voting by mail and early, in-person. Absentee ballots for the November election will be in the mail by September 17, 2020. You can request and track the status of your absentee ballot on the My Vote website.

  2. Providing assistance to help voters comply with absentee ballot requests and certification requirements. The most common reason for a rejected ballot is lack of voter signature. Be sure to include your signature plus a witness signature on the absentee ballot before returning to the Clerk's Office.

  3. Utilizing secure drop-boxes to facilitate return of absentee ballots. The goal for the November 2020 Presidential Election is to provide fourteen drop boxes equitably distributed across the city. Site location details are still being finalized and will be promoted well in advance of the election on the Clerk's Office website.

  4. Deploying additional staff improvements to expedite and improve accuracy of absentee ballot processing.

  5. Expanding strategic voter education and outreach efforts, particularly in historically disenfranchised residents. The City will be producing videos introduce voters to the election process, voting options, and to explain the safety precautions taken at polls and early voting sites. Additionally, beginning September 22nd (National Voter Registration Day), the Clerk's Office will have poll workers stationed throughout the city to register voters and accept the delivery of absentee ballots. These poll workers will be able to serve as a witness if needed. Locations, days, and hours will be added to the Clerk's Office website.

  6. Expanding in-person early voting, including curbside voting. The City plans to provide over 20 in-person absentee voting locations for the thirteen days leading up to the November election. Check out the Clerk's Office website for details.

  7. Launching poll worker recruitment, training and safety efforts.

  8. Ensuring safe and efficient Election Day administration. This includes needs for hand sanitizer for all poll workers and voters, disinfectant spray, plexi-glass shields, face shields for curbside election officials, and face masks for all poll workers and observers.

Our efforts to implement these combined actions under the grant began with the August 11, 2020 election. As a result of this great work, we saw a 39.1% voter turnout of which over 80% of ballots were cast absentee. Turnout is up from 22% in the August 2018 election.

For important context on the August 2020 election, 0.28 percent of absentee ballots were rejected. The main reason for rejection was the lack of a voter signature. This matches the rejection rate in August 2016, but is higher than the 0.2 percent rejection rate in August 2018.

Given this new era of high absentee ballot requests that is being put in jeopardy by the decisions of the Post Master General, we must all be aware of the actions we can take to ensure the highest turnout possible in this upcoming election:

  • Request your absentee ballot today on the My Vote website . Ballots will be mailed by September 17, 2020.

  • Once you receive your ballot in the mail, return it as soon as you are able.

  • Options for returning ballots:

    • Mail in as soon as possible. Be sure to give ample time for delivery to ensure your ballot is received on time and your vote counts.

    • In person drop off sites. Again, site location details are still being finalized and will be promoted well in advance of the election on the Clerk's Office website.

  • If you prefer to vote absentee, in-person, Madison voters will have over 20 locations to choose from. Check out the Clerk's Office website for details on locations.

In addition to preparing voters for the November election, the Clerk's Office is also looking for sites across the city to serve as polling locations to ensure equitable access. Check out my blog from the previous election for details on location requirements and available incentives.

For up to date information on changes, you can also follow the Clerk's Office on Twitter @MadisonWIClerk.

Together through proactive actions outlined here, we will not allow decisions by the Post Master General to detract us from guaranteeing all eligible residents the right to vote. Let's get out the vote and share this important information, Madison!

Additionally, here's some Recent news releases from the Clerks Office:

Madison Public Library Eliminates Overdue Fines

Effective August 12th, Madison Public Library will no longer charge overdue fines on library materials.

"Madison Public Library is proud to support our commitment to equity and literacy. By eliminating nearly all overdue fines and ceasing to use a collections agency, we want to encourage even more Madisonians to use the library by removing those barriers to library services," said Library Director Greg Mickells. "Especially now, we need to make our libraries more accessible."

"Madison Public Library has joined public libraries across the nation that recognize library fines as an equity issue," said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. "By eliminating fines, nearly 10,000 library users will be able to check out library materials again and take advantage of all that our award-winning libraries have to offer."

In August of 2019, the Library Board and library staff began to explore the costs and benefits of moving to a fine free model, and in July 2020, the Library Board passed a proposed 2021 operating budget that included the elimination of fine revenue. At its August 6, 2020, board meeting, the Library Board formally passed an updated policy eliminating the charging of overdue fines and eliminating the use of a collections agency, which had been used to collect outstanding library charges of over $50.00. The library has not assessed fines since closing due to COVID-19 on March 17, 2020.

In 2019, library staff reviewed data on borrowing trends, cardholder trends, use patterns of other fine free libraries, and revenue generated by overdue fines. At that time, it became clear that overdue fines, and the blocked library cards that often result from fines, disproportionately affected libraries serving neighborhoods with lower incomes and higher percentages of residents of color.

"We know that some library customers are unable to check out library materials due to fines, and in keeping with our commitment to equity and access to public libraries, we felt that this was the right time to eliminate overdue fines and the use of a collection agency," said Jaime Healy-Plotkin, Madison Public Library Board President. "We made this decision during a particularly difficult budget discussion, but now more than ever, public libraries are valuable community assets that should be available for all."

Two exceptions to this policy include:

  • Items checked out from South Central Library System libraries that still charge overdue fines
  • Items borrowed from non-South Central Library System libraries

In addition, library customers will still be charged replacement costs for items that are lost or damaged.

Library staff will work with all partners and vendors in the month of August and will work with affected customers during the transition period. Library customers may not notice an immediate change to their library records. Questions about library accounts can be addressed to the library at or 608-266-6357.

More information
Currently Available Library Services
Madison Public Library's Fine Free Page
For a list of all library hours and locations, visit
For downloadable audiobooks and ebooks, visit
For LINKcat online library catalog, visit

Metro Transit to Start Collecting Fares

Starts Tuesday, September 1

Starting on Tuesday, September 1, Metro will resume collecting fares on all buses. Passengers will need to present a cash fare or valid pass to ride. 

Board Buses at the Front Door
Also starting on Tuesday, September 1, passengers are directed to board at the front of the bus to access the farebox. A plexiglass shield has been installed to help prevent virus spread between the driver and passengers when boarding.

Buy Passes Through the Mail
Passes and 10-ride cards can be purchased through the mail by paying online or by check using a printed mail order form. Customers are encouraged to place orders well in advance to account for mail delivery time.

Metro Administration Office Opens Wednesday
Buy passes and 10-ride cards at Metro's Administration Office located at 1245 E. Washington Ave starting Wednesday, August 19. Metro's office will be open for limited hours starting Wednesday from 7:30 am until 3:30 pm. If those hours present a hardship, please call (608) 266-4904 to set up an appointment to purchase fare items.

Bus Capacity Remains at 20
To help prevent virus spread, Metro continues its riding rule of only 20 passengers allowed on each bus.

Masks Required to Ride
As according to existing public health orders, all riders must continue to wear a mask when on the bus.

For more information, contact Metro's customer service center at (608) 266-4466 or

Complete information is available at this link:

Mayor Addresses Three Interrelated Challenges Facing Madison: COVID Pandemic, COVID Economy, and Gun Violence in Our Community

Last week the Mayor gave a speech discussing the different challenges the City is facing and the work that is being done to address these challenges. In my opinion, it's a very good summary of where we are and what's ahead of us.

You can watch the speech on YouTube or read the transcript.

Census 2020: COMPLETE Count

A complete count is critical for equal representation in elections and to receive our fair share of federal funding for the next 10 years for transportation, healthcare, COVID recovery, affordable housing, and more. 

As of July 31, there are over a 1,000 households in District 19 who haven't filled out their Census form! It's quick, easy and so incredibly important! (For Data Nerds: Non-Response Rate | Non-Reponding Households count)

Census takers began going door-to-door last week to get replies from households that have not responded via mail, online, or over the phone.  Census takers will be from the Dane County area.  Tenants/homeowners who do not speak the same language as the census taker can request a return visit from a census taker who does speak the same language.  If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond to the census online, by phone or by mailIf you haven't responded yet to the Census, you can still do so to to avoid having a census taker knock on their door.  Census takers will wear masks and follow local and state public health guidelines.  Census takers will be carrying an ID badge with their photo, a US Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.  They may also be carrying a Census Bureau bag and other Census Bureau gear.  Households who do not self-respond or answer the door will likely get followup visits from a census taker.  There is a summary of this information available on the 2020 Census website

City staff has also recently posted a census response rate press release in English, Spanish, and Hmong.  The release highlights the fact that an estimated 30,000 Madison households have yet to respond to the 2020 Census.  While our citywide response rate of 72.7% places us amongst the top 10% of cities of comparable size in the country, substantial progress still needs to be made to ensure a complete count. 


As always, if there is anything I can do to help, feel free to reach out:

-Keith F

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