Early voting proving popular locally

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Frank Schultz
October 21, 2014

It's still early, but early voting continues to be popular in these parts.

“They're just coming out of the woodwork. We almost ran out of envelopes yesterday,” said a worker in the city of Delavan clerk's office before handing the phone to Clerk Sue Kitzman on Tuesday afternoon.

“There's a whole lot,” Kitzman agreed Tuesday afternoon. “We had 50 yesterday (Monday). Not quite as many today so far, but it's been a lot.”

Several other local city clerks said they have seen strong turnouts since early voting began Monday.

The numbers were expected, said Leanne Schroeder, acting clerk for the city of Milton.

“We were expecting a pretty good turnout at the election, and that's usually preceded by a lot of early voters,” Schroeder said.

City of Janesville Clerk-Treasurer Jean Wulf said only 11 people voted Monday at Janesville City Hall. As of midday Tuesday, however, Wulf estimated 170 for the day if people kept coming in as they had in the morning.

If numbers stay strong, Wulf said, they could stay strong through the early-voting period, which is limited to Monday through Friday in the two weeks preceding the election.

“What's going to be telling is tomorrow (Wednesday). Will the numbers still be up, or was it just because there was a lot of advertisement both on the radio and on TV?” Wulf said.

Democrats have made a big deal about Wisconsin's early-voting option in recent elections, and this year, the Republicans are doing the same.

“All the parties think that if you vote early, you'll vote for my candidate. I'm not quite sure, but it's a popular thing that the parties suggest you do,” Kitzman said.

Actually, campaign workers like early voting because that leaves less get-out-the-vote work on Election Day.

Technically speaking, Wisconsin offers in-person absentee voting, in which the voter fills out a ballot and seals it in an envelope. Poll workers open the envelopes on Election Day for counting.

“I anticipate there will be lines next week for voting absentee, and the lines will be longer than they are at the polls (Nov. 4). It happens every November election,” Wulf said.

In the 2012 gubernatorial recall election, 353 people voted at Janesville City Hall on the last day of early voting, Wulf said.

Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler noted that lawmakers changed the early-voting law recently, forbidding the practice of some clerks of opening their offices for voting on weekends and, in some local rural towns, at night.

Early voting is limited to the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday through Oct. 31, although many clerks close their offices well before 7 p.m.

Some town clerks have regular office hours, but others who don't will accept early voting only by appointment, Stottler said, so it's a good idea to call ahead.

Wulf and some other clerks whose office hours end at 4 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. will close at 5 p.m. Oct. 31.

Those who miss that deadline won't turn into pumpkins, but they'll have only one option: show up to vote at the polls Tuesday, Nov. 4.


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