Wisconsin gears up for early voting amidst unprecedented mail-in voting; in-person turnout unclear, expert says

Posted at 7:12 PM, Oct 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-18 20:12:27-04

WISCONSIN — Election Day is fast approaching and people in Wisconsin are gearing up for the first day of in-person, early voting on Tuesday.

The last few weeks as polls opened for early voting across the country, lines could be seen snaking down the sidewalks with some people waiting hours to cast their ballots.

However, will this be the case come Tuesday, when early voting starts in Wisconsin? It doesn’t matter to Guy Huffman, who lives on Milwaukee’s south side.

“What we see, we see. If we have to wait, we’ll gladly wait, and get the job done,” Huffman said. “I think there’s a lot of people that are willing to do whatever it takes to get their vote counted this year.”

Though, so far the state is seeing unprecedented numbers of people voting absentee. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, as of Sunday morning, nearly 860,000 residents have already cast their ballots, about 25 percent of the total turnout during the election four years ago.

Barry Burden is the director of UW-Madison’s Elections Research Center.

“There's a lot of eagerness to vote by mail, and I think less eagerness to vote in person,” Burden said.

Burden said he expects in-person turnout to vary in different parts of the state based on the number of early polling locations and whether local officials have installed absentee drop-off boxes.

Compared to the April primary, when Milwaukee only had five polling spots, on Tuesday there will be 16, and on Election Day close to the typical 180, with the hope of reducing wait times.

“I would be surprised to see the kinds of long lines that were observed back in the April primary here or in Atlanta or other places this fall,” Burden said.

While it’s still unclear what will happen, both Biden and Trump campaigns are keeping momentum strong.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was in Milwaukee Saturday to rally support for Biden, and Biden’s campaign held a car parade on the city’s north side Sunday from Johnson Park to the Center Street Library ballot dropbox.

“It’s up to us to make sure that we are encouraging every individual that we can find that’s an eligible voter to come out and vote,” State Senator LaTonya Johnson said to a crowd of supporters before the parade.

President Donald Trump held a rally Saturday in Janesville, days after Vice President Mike Pence made a trip to Waukesha.

“We're taking nothing for granted. We're not remotely being complacent and we know we need to work really hard to earn the votes of the Badger State once again this year,” Trump Campaign Senior Advisor for Strategy, Steve Cortes said.

For more information on voting, polling locations, registration and absentee ballots, click here.

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