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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

 6:56 PM 

Elections officials seeing slow turnout

Election officials in several Wisconsin cities say turnout at the polls for the fall primary has been low so far, and the city of Milwaukee has ratcheted down its prediction for how many votes will be cast.

The Government Accountability Board had predicted 20 percent turnout for the state.

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht said that because there wasn't a noon rush at the polls as expected, the turnout will likely be more around 18 percent to 20 percent than the 20 percent to 25 percent originally projected.

Albrecht also noted that there have been several complaints in the area regarding "aggressive" campaigning. He said that included campaigning too close to polls, campaigning in street medians and putting political signs on publicly owned property.

The Milwaukee and Waukesha areas are expected to be key to the outcome of the U.S. Senate primary today. Officials from the city of Waukesha could not be reached for projections as of this afternoon.

The city of Green Bay said it had about 9 percent turnout as of 1 p.m., while Appleton was expecting to exceed the state average with 24 percent. The city had 8 percent turnout by 11 a.m., and an election official said those numbers usually triple by the time the polls close at 8 p.m.

Madison, home to three of the four candidates in the 2nd CD Dem primary, had 15 percent turnout as of 4 p.m. Kenosha projected turnout would finish near 15 percent, while Wausau officials said they expected 11 percent turnout.

On the western side of the state, Eau Claire said it only had 4.9 percent turnout by 11 a.m. today.

GAB Director Kevin Kennedy says the biggest problem at the polls today is the same issue that pops up with almost every statewide primary -- voters who don’t understand they can only vote in one party’s primary.

“It’s the biggest issue, and we always expect it. We appreciate what the media does to explain to people it’s one party or the other … but it’s still the biggest call at any polling place,” Kennedy said.

Elections officials also had a problem in Marinette County because they didn’t take redistricting into account when sending ballots to the town of Beaver. Instead of voting in the 12th Senate District and 36th Assembly District as they were supposed to, they got ballots for the 30th SD and the 89th AD.

The 12th SD features a Dem primary with Susan Sommer and Lisa Theo, while there is a GOP primary in the 30th SD that has John Macco and Ray Suennen.

There are no primaries in the 36th or 89th ADs.

Kennedy said the mix up affects about 75 votes, which will count for county and statewide races, but not the legislative districts.

He also said turnout was slow today, though he wouldn’t be able to determine if the state will hit the GAB’s projection of 20 percent turnout until the end of the night.

-- By Staff

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