Local election officials say they have seen a rise of in-person early voting ahead of Tuesday’s election, matching information reported elsewhere in the state. In-person early voting ended locally Friday.
Turnout in midterm elections usually is far below that of presidential elections, but the number of people voting early in Madison and Milwaukee set records this fall.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, as of Monday afternoon, 22,387 in-person early ballots had been cast in Madison — well over double the number who voted early in the last midterm election in 2014. Milwaukee saw 19,586 people vote as of Monday, an increase of more than 4,200 from 2014’s total of 15,300.
As of Thursday, city clerks in Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Mayville, Waupun and Portage said they have noticed an increase as well.
Beaver Dam reported 350 in-person early voters and had mailed out a requested 366 absentee ballots. In 2014, there were 430 early voters and 242 ballots mailed.
Mayville City Clerk Sara Decker said 235 early votes were cast in 2014 and there have been 220 cast this election. However, of those, 61 voted in the last couple days, so she expected the number to rise before in-person early voting ended Friday.
“The new WisVote website makes it so much easier and quicker to request a mailed absentee ballot as well,” she said.
Voters can access the system at myvote.wi.gov.
Early voting is up in Waupun, with 859 votes this year compared to 553 in 2014.
Baraboo had 850 early voters by Thursday morning, which is 42 more than those who cast early ballots in 2014. Portage had 834 people cast early ballots; the total number cast in 2014 was 799.
An early fall primary and a federal court ruling striking down laws that restricted in-person early voting allowed Wisconsin voters to start weighing in on Tuesday’s general election in mid-September, which is earlier than ever. The state has appealed that ruling.
President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama were in Wisconsin recently to urge early voting in hotly contested races for governor, in which Gov. Scott Walker faces state schools Superintendent Tony Evers, and the U.S. Senate, in which incumbent Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin is going up against state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield.
Dodge County Clerk Karen Gibson said polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day and she expects locations to be busy.
“My advice is for voters to give themselves plenty of time to vote,” she said. “They must bring photo ID and if voters need to register, they need to provide proof of residence.”