In-person absentee voting officially begins in Wisconsin; Onalaska City Hall ‘extremely busy’

Voters waited 45 minutes lining up outside of city hall in Onalaska when it opened at 8 a.m. Tuesday

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) – Tuesday is the first day of in-person absentee voting in Wisconsin.

As we’ve reported, more absentee ballots are being requested and returned than usual in La Crosse County this year.

La Crosse County is already at a 26 percent voter turnout, and that’s just accounting for mail-in absentee voting.

Tuesday isn’t Bonna Tauscher’s first time voting.

“I don’t know when I started,” Tauscher said. “I suppose in my 20s…I’m 80.”

Nearly 60 years of voting, and not once did she ever vote absentee in-person, until now.

“Cause I feel like it’s a safer way to do it,” Tauscher said.

Onalaska election officials are not surprised there’s a big turnout on the first day of in-person absentee voting.

“It’s been extremely busy, which we did expect,” city clerk JoAnn Marcon said.

Marcon says voters packed City Hall this morning.

“We probably had as many as 40 people waiting in line at 8 a.m,” Marcon said. “And they had been waiting in the cold for at least 45 minutes to come in and vote.”

About 5,400 absentee ballots have already been issued by mail in the city.

“And as of last night, we received back about 68 percent of them,” Marcon said.

The city’s absentee voter turnout is at 40 percent, and that’s just by mail.

“And then that number will only increase throughout the next two weeks as our absentee numbers increase through in-person voting,” Marcon said.

A big reason why many voters are out, Marcon says, is because of the debacle with the postal service.

“So this is more of a happy medium for them where they can avoid going to the polls,” Marcon said.

Whether you’re voting absentee or on election day, Tauscher’s message is the same.

“It’s important,” Tauscher said. “We’re Americans and we should be all out there voting.”

Just don’t expect her to be casting her ballot on election day anytime soon.

“I don’t wanna be standing in line anymore,” Tauscher said. “Getting older,” she said with a laugh.

There is a difference between in-person absentee voting and early voting. According to state law, ballots casted in-person today will be sealed in envelopes and stored until election day. That is when all ballots will be fed through the ballot machine to get counted.

Those voting absentee in-person in La Crosse or Onalaska have until 5 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 30. If you’re a registered voter, all you need is your voter ID. Those not registered to vote can register in-person. You just need your voter ID and proof of residence.