LA CROSSE, Wis. -- The first ballots for Wisconsin's first-ever statewide recall primary are being cast this week.

Absentee voting started Monday across the state.

La Crosse City Clerk Teri Lehrke said it's hard to know what voter turnout is going to be like over the next several weeks because there's really no precedent for this type of election. But she does say we could see greater turnout than we had for the presidential primary earlier this month.

But with hectic schedules and vacations, getting to the voting booth on May 8 for the recall primary can be a challenge for some people.

That's where absentee voting comes into play.

"It's a convenience to voters. Some people really like that because they can come to the municipal clerk's office on their own time or they can request an absentee ballot," said Lehrke.

Either way, Wisconsinites no longer have to give a reason why they want to vote absentee, whether they're going to be out of town or if they just want to avoid long lines at the polls.

"It used to be that you had to have a reason such as being an election official, or age, or illness, disability, that kind of thing. But then the legislature eliminated that requirement quite a few years ago," said Lehrke.

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political analyst Joe Heim said that's one way Wisconsin tries to make it as easy as possible to vote.

"Wisconsin historically has had very easy access to ballots -- same-day registration, for example, easy registration in advance. The absentee ballots, system has always been pretty easy. Like I said, you don't even have to give a reason. All those are designed to increase participation in the state. We rank historically in the top five in turnout in the United States," said Heim.

He said both parties are encouraging their supporters to vote absentee more and more.

"That has expanded greatly as the parties have become more adversarial. And every vote counts. You know, we've had some really close elections. And the parties now are looking for every advantage they can," said Heim.

There's been a lot of talk about the Democratic challengers for governor, but what you may not know is there's a Republican candidate running against Walker in the primary, too. Voters can only choose one candidate in the primary, not one from each party.

The deadline for in-person absentee voting is May 4 at 5 p.m. Mail-in absentee ballots must be postmarked by election day on May 8 and received by May 11.
Voters will not be required to show a photo ID at the polls.