• WisPolitics


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

 4:47 PM 

Election officials report few problems, good turnout so far

Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas says he’s heard of just “low-level issues” so far today as Wisconsin voters hit the polls.

He said one of the most frequent calls the agency received today was from military voters upset to find out their absentee ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. today. Though they can still request them today, the deadline is the close of polls. Previously, they had until the Friday after the election to return their ballots.

Haas said the agency reached out to military and overseas voters ahead of the election to let them know about the change.

“That’s been one of the most frustrating things is military voters just realizing that today,” he said.

There was a minor ballot issue in Fond du Lac, where machines were having a hard time counting votes in a DA race where the candidate was unopposed, Haas said. There also have been calls from people looking for their polling place and inquiring about photo ID requirements.

Attorney General Brad Schimel, whose DOJ sent out “election integrity teams” to several locations, said in a tweet late this afternoon that there were “no issues or problems of any note.”

Several clerks, meanwhile, say they’re seeing turnout that indicates they’ll match their 2012 levels.

That includes Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht, who said the city’s turnout numbers are “very comparable” to 2012, when 87 percent of registered voters turned out.

“I feel pretty confident that we’ll actually boost our voter participation above what it was in 2012,” Albrecht said at a news conference around 4 p.m. “How great that margin is, we can’t really anticipate at this time.”

Albrecht said a few voters have had “pretty profound challenges” in meeting the state’s photo ID requirement or providing proof of residence, though he said the city is getting them to cast a provisional ballot and ensuring they can get the proper documents by Friday so their votes actually count.

Like other city clerks, Albrecht reported some lines when polling locations opened, including some voters who were outside when election workers arrived at 6 a.m.

“And the polls don’t even open until 7 a.m.,” he said earlier today. “So that’s how enthusiastic the public is.”

The clerks also said the flow of voters was fairly even after the morning, though they expect activity to pick up as people begin leaving work.

“It just seems steady,” Kenosha City Clerk/Treasurer Deb Salas said earlier this afternoon.

Janice Johnson-Martin, Racine’s city clerk & treasury manager, said the city hasn’t seen any major issues and that “everything is going well.”

Monica Schultz, the West Allis city clerk, said before noon that turnout so far is “very comparable” to the 2012 levels and that turnout is likely to end up somewhere between 80 and 85 percent of registered voters. The lines in the morning when the polling locations opened cleared up “very quickly,” she said.

“Things have been running smoothly in West Allis considering the volume,” she said. “Right now, it’s very steady.”

David Godek, the Janesville city clerk, projected the city will have “no problem” getting at least 80 percent of registered voters turning out. He said around noon that turnout will likely be at its 2012 levels of roughly 88 percent.

“Right now, our turnout’s looking pretty good,” he said.

And Meredith McGlone, a UW-Madison spokeswoman, said in an email they’re “seeing steady traffic at campus polling places today and no reports of significant delays or disruptions.”

The university had, as of yesterday, also issued 6,485 free IDs to students so they can comply with the state’s voter ID law.

“We're continuing to issue more today, including stationing printers at on-campus polling places so cards can be produced on the spot,” she said.

-- By Staff


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