Early in person absentee voting started yesterday in Wisconsin and a steady stream of people voted at polling places in Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant.
With both parties pushing voters to cast their absentee ballots early, they see that getting those ballots in early gives their respective parties an advantage and voters are listening.
In Sturtevant on Monday afternoon, 70 to 80 people had already voted.
“The total number of absentee voters is usually around 80,” said Mary Cole, the village clerk.
But during the last presidential election, about 1/3 of their 2,700 voters had voted absentee.
Cole said both parties have encouraged absentee voting.
“The campaign people are telling people to go out and get it done,” she said.
But Cole said having people vote early really doesn’t ease any burden on her.
“It creates more work for me, but it makes the lines shorter for people, and I think that’s a good thing,” she said.
Veronica Rudychev, clerk for Mount Pleasant, said that in bigger elections, about 20 percent of the village's almost 18,000 registered voters turned in absentee ballots. By about 2 p.m., about 500 people had voted on the first day of absentee voting.
While both parties encourage absentee voting, there is an underlying reason for that, Rudychev said.
“They (Republicans and Democrats) feel if they get them to vote early, it cinches in the fact that they have that vote,” Rudychev said. “But the campaigns often target those people because it gives them more control over the polls."
Rudychev explained that each municipality keeps a spreadsheet of who has requested absentee ballots with the person’s name and address, which is often requested through the open records law by the campaigns.
“If they get the name and address of the people who turned in their absentee forms, they can go back and hound them until they do it,” she said.
Caledonia resident Stephanie Seversin said she usually doesn’t vote early.
“This was my first time voting early,” she said. “I usually vote on the day of the election, but I saw in the newspaper that they were asking us to vote early.”
By 2 p.m. Monday poll worker John Barnes said they already had a couple hundred people come to the Caledonia Safety Building to vote early.
“We’ve probably had 750 to 1,000 ballots turned in between those that have been filled out here and those that have been mailed back to the village,” he said.
Bill Folk, chairman for the Racine Republican Party, said Wisconsin doesn’t have early voting, but rather early in-person absentee voting.
“That means the ballots aren’t counted until election,” he said. “And the biggest reason we push it is because life happens, people get busy with their workday, or with school,” Folk said. “Sometimes elections can just pass you by so it’s good that we have this window to vote in advance and having it count on election day is one of the reasons why we are encourage it.”
Jane Witt, chairman of the Democratic Party of Racine, said there were several reasons why they were encouraging voters to vote absentee.
“We wanted to have the people working for us to get out the vote on Election Day, to vote early to get it out of the way,” Witt said. “We wanted to increase the level of excitement in our voting base and we wanted voters to vote early to avoid standing in long lines.
“Plus, if you’ll remember, June was a messy time for the election. We’ve got a lot more poll workers that need to be trained and we’re trying to have voters avoid long lines and voter interference,” she said.
Want to know more about early in person absentee voting? Click here.