Early voting proves popular in GOP-leaning Waukesha County

Posted at 10:28 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 23:28:11-04

Early voting is underway in some communities, but not without a fight.

Republican lawmakers have tried to limit early voting in Wisconsin to just the two weeks before election day.

But a review of 2012 voting data shows the convenience of early voting is more popular with Republican voters in Waukesha County than in Democrat friendly Milwaukee County.

In the 2012 presidential race, Milwaukee and Waukesha counties were polar opposites.    

Milwaukee went 66 percent for President Obama while Waukesha 67 percent for Mitt Romney.

But how many of those votes came... Early?        

By vote totals, the more populous Milwaukee County was the winner with 85,601 early votes compared to 68,186 in Waukesha County.

But early voting was far more popular in the Republican stronghold, with 28 percent of all ballots cast in Waukesha County coming before election day.

In Democratic-leaning Milwaukee County, early votes were 17 percent of the total ballots cast.

To University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee, that shows Republican lawmakers were messing with something their base really likes.

“People in Waukesha County who are above average in income and above average in education like early voting. In other words, it's a convenience,” Lee said.

The number one community for early voting in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties in 2012 was the Village of Summit.     

This year, they will have 20 early voting days, while Milwaukee has 33.

Far more than the ten days cap Republican lawmakers attempted to impose before a court ruling put their law on hold.

One thing Lee says does hold true to conventional wisdom -- early voting does give Democrats more days to bring more people to the polls, especially in years with a big presidential election.

"Why do the Democrats like early voting? It's because they have to work so hard to get those once every four years voters to vote,” he said.   

So it is a Democratic advantage, but only if they can pull that off.

Meanwhile, Lee says Republican lawmakers don't see much risk in denying a convenience to their Waukesha County base.

"Even if early voting were abolished, those people would still vote. Those people would vote in a hurricane,” he said.