More Wisconsintes are heading to the polls before Tuesday’s election

205,000 Wisconsinites took part in early in-person absentee voting

More than half of Wisconsin’s registered voters are expected to cast a ballot in this midterm election.

The Government Accountability Board just released its projection of 56.5 percent voter turnout.

The GAB’s public information officer Reid Magney spoke to the Rotary Club of La Crosse at the Radisson Center Thursday afternoon. He believes turnout will be typical for an election highlighted by a gubernatorial race.

“It’s going to definitely be more than 50 percent, probably close to what we had in the recall election which was about 57 percent,” said Magney.

Magney also said early voter turnout across the state is up from previous years. So far, more than 205,000 Wisconsinites have cast their ballot for the upcoming Tuesday election.

In La Crosse County, well over 5,000 residents have participated in early absentee voting.

For the past two weeks, residents in La Crosse County have had the chance to register and cast their ballot early. One resident who was just planning to register on Thursday was pleasantly surprised when he learned he could actually cast his vote as well.

“I have lived in La Crosse probably about 12 years,” said Curtis Bottem.

Recently retired La Crosse resident Bottem went to city hall on Thursday with one goal in mind.

“I came to register,” said Bottem.

But to his surprise, he got to do a lot more than just register.

“They said no you can vote today. Well there’s no line so why not,” said Bottem.

Bottem isn’t the only one casting his ballot before Tuesday’s election. For the past two weeks, Wisconsinites have been able to participate in early in-person absentee voting.

“Voters can go to the municipal clerk’s office and cast their ballot which will then be secured until election day,” said Ginny Dankmeyer, La Crosse County clerk.

It’s something more and more people seem to be taking part in.

“Day one and day two we did set some records. We never had that high of a turnout for in-person absentee on the first and second day,” said Teri Lehrke, La Crosse City clerk.

After a record setting start to absentee voting, it’s maintained a steady pace averaging about 200 people a day in La Crosse.

“Overall for in-person voting, we have exceeded already the number of in person voting in the governor recall election and also the governor election four years ago,” said Lehrke.

For the clerks, absentee voting is more work.

“You are having to deal with the envelopes, securing them and on election day you have to go through and process these.”

But if it gets people to vote Dankmeyer said it’s worth it.

“If this is going to get you to vote and we are going to have a higher voter turnout because you are going to vote in-person absentee, then I am definitely in favor of that,” said Dankmeyer.

“The whole process of registering and everything maybe took 4 minutes. I mean, come on how simple is that and now I get to go vote,” said Bottem.

If you plan on voting election day, here are some tips to avoid any delays. To avoid lines, try not to head to the polls right before work, around lunch time or right after work.

Voters should also check their registration status at myvote.wi.gov. If you aren’t registered, Magney said you should fill out your information online, print out the form and bring it with you to vote because it will be a lot quicker to register.

In-person absentee voting and registration in La Crosse County ends Friday. It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at City Hall in La Crosse.

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