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Wisconsin Sees ‘Historic’ Voter Turnout For Tuesday Primary

Long Lines Plague Some Polling Places As Voter ID Law Goes Into Effect

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Wisconsin’s presidential primary on Tuesday saw record turnout, just as some scholars had predicted — along with some long lines at polling places.

More than 2.1 million people showed up to vote in Tuesday’s presidential primary. The Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections, estimates 47 percent of the voting age population went to the polls — the highest turnout percentage in a presidential primary since 1972.

“It was a historic election,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board.

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Kennedy credited the apparent enthusiasm to presidential candidate visits to Wisconsin, national media attention, and tight polling numbers between candidates.

“The elections with the highest turnout is where the voters feel they have a stake — where they think when they cast a vote, it’s going to mean something,” he said.

Kennedy added that a large number of new voters registered for this election.

The primary was also the first real test of the state’s new voter ID law, which some opponents have said creates confusion and unnecessary barriers for some voters. Kennedy said voter ID didn’t cause too many hiccups on Tuesday, other than lengthening wait times at the polls.

“We know that voter ID is going to create longer lines because it takes longer. A poll worker has to do more things when a voter comes in,” he said.

In some Wisconsin polling places, voters stood in line for two hours.

Kennedy said college students seemed to be the group most confused by the new law. His agency is planning to increase outreach to students before November’s general election.