City of

District 6

Alder Brian Benford

Image of Alder Brian Benford

Alder Brian Benford

Contact Information

Home Address:

2273 E. Washington Ave #1
Madison , WI 53704

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

Alder Benford’s Updates

D6 Items of Interest Week of April 6, 2020

April 5, 2020 10:59 PM

Highlights:  I signed on to a statement with almost 100 elected officials calling for Andrea Palm the Secretary of the Department Health Services to use her power to extend mail voting to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus by not having in person voting on April 7 


Mayor Rhodes-Conway signed a similar letter with several Mayors


The City of Madison Clerk's Office would like voters to know 12 things for this Tuesday's election:

  1. Many polling places have changed for this election. To verify your polling location, visit
  2. You may use your own black or blue ballpoint pen. At the public test of election equipment, we made sure the tabulator accurately tallied ballots marked with blue or black ballpoint ink. We cannot guarantee that other colors of ink will be counted. Sharpies might bleed through the ballot and affect contests on the other side of the ballot. Gel pens do not dry fast enough, and gel gums up inside of the tabulator, causing ballot jams. If you have a pen that writes really smoothly, it is likely a gel pen, and it does not work well with our election equipment.
  3. Curbside voting is available.  As always, voters unable to enter the polling place due to disability or illness may vote from the curb. We anticipate that curbside voting will be utilized by voters who have underlying health conditions, are at high risk for COVID-19, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.   When you pull up to the curb of the polling place, you will see a sign posted with a number to call in order to reach the poll workers inside. Two poll workers, wearing protective face shields, will bring you a ballot that you may mark inside your vehicle. If you have your own ballpoint pen, wave the pen at the poll workers so they know you do not need a pen. Hold your Voter ID up to your window for the poll workers to check. Crack your window open just enough to receive your ballot from the poll workers. Mark your ballot, fold it, and pass it back to the poll workers through your cracked car window. The poll workers will feed your ballot into the tabulator to be counted. Two poll workers are involved in this process for accountability purposes.
  4. Hand sanitizer will be at the poll book table and polling place exit. Voters will be asked to sanitize their hands at the poll book table before signing the poll book. This will allow time for the voter's hands to dry before they receive their ballot. Hand sanitizer will also be available for voters to use as they exit the polling place.
  5. Keep your ballot dry! Rain is in the forecast for Tuesday. When ballots get wet, they shred in the tabulator and can take down the tabulator for the entire day. If your ballot gets wet, whether with rain or sanitizer, ask a poll worker for a replacement ballot.
  6. Maintain social distancing. In the interest of public safety, we ask that all voters and poll workers practice social distancing to the greatest extent possible. If you are in line, allow six feet of space between you and the next voter. You will be interacting with poll workers through a Plexiglass screen. When selecting a voting booth to use, allow six feet of space between you and other voters. Poll workers will be disinfecting pens and voting booths after each use.
  7. Voters will not need to remove their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Poll workers have been instructed to verify the identity of a voter wearing a facemask by comparing the eyes in the voter's ID to the eyes of the voter before them. Poll workers should not ask voters to remove their facemasks.
  8. Voters who have not returned an absentee ballot may vote at the polls. Voters who received an absentee ballot but have not sent that ballot back to the Clerk's Office have the option of voting at the polls on Election Day instead. Voters who have returned their absentee ballot to be counted may not vote at the polls on Election Day.
  9. Election results will not be available on election night. We are currently under a federal court order to not run the election results on election night. Absentee ballots that are returned to the Clerk's Office by 4 p.m. on Monday, April 13, will be counted by the Board of Canvassers on April 13, and the election results will be released once those ballots are counted.
  10. Voters may use three library book drops to return their absentee ballots. Pinney Library, Sequoya Library, and Central Library have opened their book drops for voters returning their absentee ballots (sealed in the absentee certificate envelope with the voter's signature, witness signature, and witness address). The Clerk's Office retrieves these ballots from the library daily. To make sure ballots are not damaged, please do not return library materials to these book drops.
  11. Need a witness? Call the Dane County Voter ID Coalition hotline at 608-285-2141. The waiver of the absentee witness signature for voters who cannot get a witness is up in the air right now, pending a final decision of the 7th Circuit. Try to get a witness if at all possible. If not possible, write a statement to that effect on the absentee envelope.
  12. Do not hesitate to contact the Clerk's Office. If you have a question or encounter a problem at your polling place, please let us know right away by calling (608) 266-4601.


The City of Madison Engineering Division plans on having barriers up at all 66 polling locations in time for Election Day, April 7, 2020. The barriers will be used at each polling location to separate poll workers and the public to support social distancing and health safety procedure in response to COVID-19. Each polling designated location will have two barriers, built from Plexiglas, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe and plywood. One 8-foot by 2.5-foot barrier will be set up for two poll workers to sit behind and check IDs. One 4-foot by 2.5-foot barrier will be set up for one poll worker to sit behind and gather the ballot. The Engineering Division designed the barriers March 30. Crews built a prototype March 31 and ordered materials overnight to begin building, installing and distributing April 1. Crews will finish building and installing the barriers April 5 and 6, in time for the April 7 Election. In all, Engineering will have designed, built and installed 132 barriers when work is complete.

City staff have been doing amazing work crossing the silos between agencies. Thanks to the 200+ city staff for assisting the Clerk's office in their effort to process over 72,000 absentee ballot requests and staffing curbside voting.

We are conducting a limited number of city meetings. They are held online. Each agenda link contains instructions for registering to speak.

Monday April 6, 2020


4:30p virtual meeting


4. 60126 Authorizing departments to transfer to other departments up to $50,000 from the operating budget and up to $250,000 from the capital budget in response to the COVID-19 emergency


On March 23, 2020, the Mayor issued an Emergency Proclamation based on the increasing transmission of the COVID-19 disease within the City of Madison. To help agencies respond rapidly to this emergency through reallocation of budget authority to areas of greatest need, the proposed resolution increases the threshold for transfers between major objects of expenditure and capital projects from $5,000 under the current budget resolution language to $50,000 for operating budget transfers and $250,000 for capital budget transfers.  The proposed resolution maintains the current procedure that authorizes the Finance Director to make intra-department transfers and the Mayor to make inter-department transfers.

This resolution will not result in any net increase in city appropriations.


5. 60129 Amending Section 4.21(3) of the Madison General Ordinances to defer room taxes imposed for January, February and March, 2020 to no later than July 31, 2020, at the discretion of the City Treasurer


This resolution amends the city's room tax ordinance to defer payment of first quarter 2020 room taxes to no later than July 31, 2020.  Interest and penalties are waived for this deferral period.  This deferral is in response to the economic impacts associated with the public health emergency related to the COVID-19 disease.  Entities subject to the room tax are anticipated to see at least a 90 percent drop in occupancy during the second quarter of 2020, depending on the duration of the public health orders.


The city's room tax is 10 percent of gross receipts collected for the privilege and service of furnishing, at retail, except sales for resale, rooms or lodging to transients by hotelkeepers, motel operators, lodging marketplaces, and other persons furnishing accommodations that are available to the public, irrespective of whether membership is required for the use of the accommodations.  Room taxes are due 30 days after the end of a calendar quarter. First quarter taxes are due April 30. First quarter revenues in 2019 were $3.4 million.  Penalties for late payment include interest charged at 12 percent per year, a forfeiture of 25% of the room tax paid in the previous year up to a total forfeiture of $5,000, and a $25 late filing fee.  The estimated fiscal effect, based on prior year penalties paid along with lost investment earnings on deferral of revenue, is $4,000, during the affected quarter of 2020.


Currently, the city has sufficient cash balances to absorb this potential three month deferral of revenues.  No appropriations are required for this one-time change to the room tax collection process.


6. 60145 COVID-19 Response - Fiscal and Legislative Update

Updates on Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic


Thursday April 9


4:30 p virtual meeting


2. 60151 CDA Resolution # 4382 - Authorizing the suspension of late lease payment fees for residential tenants effective April 1, 2020 until further notice.

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