Wisconsin Sees Strong Early Voting Turnout For Partisan Primary

Early Numbers For Absentee Ballots Surpass 2014, Near 2016

a primary election voter casts a provisional ballot
In this March 15, 2016 photo, a primary election voter casts a provisional ballot at a polling place in Westerville, Ohio. Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Early voting across Wisconsin has eclipsed totals from the last non-presidential election year, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

As of Friday, 86,486 absentee ballots had been cast in person and by mail across Wisconsin.

According to statistics released by the commission, 86,862 absentee ballots were cast in 2016, the last presidential election, and 65,525 were cast in 2014, the last midterm election.

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The election marks the end of a crowded Democratic primary in the governor’s race and an expensive and divisive battle for the GOP nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in November.

Other offices on the ballot include lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, U.S. representative, odd-numbered state Senate seats and all state Assembly seats.

Milwaukee, which wrapped up in-person absentee voting Saturday, saw strong turnout for early voting, said Neil Albrecht, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.

About 14,000 absentee ballots had been cast in Milwaukee County as of Friday, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Of those, 2,400 were in the city of Milwaukee, Albrecht said.

“We’re hoping that’s an indicator of enthusiastic public interest in the election and that our election numbers for Tuesday will be comparable,” he said.

Dane County had the next highest turnout, with 13,800 ballots cast. Waukesha County came in third, reporting 8,850 absentee ballots cast.

Early voting hours were extended in 2016, after a federal judge struck down restrictions put in place by the state Legislature.

The state Elections Commission expects between 15 and 20 percent turnout for the partisan primary. Turnout for the last presidential election was 66 in Wisconsin.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. Election Day and close at 8 p.m. Voters can register to vote in-person on Election Day at their polling place, as long as they provide proof of residence. A photo ID is required to cast a ballot.

Residents can find their polling place and see a sample ballot online at myvote.wi.gov.

Click here for a WPR FAQ on registering to vote and voter ID requirements.