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Municipalities note higher absentee numbers in Columbia County
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Municipalities note higher absentee numbers in Columbia County


Signs reading “HEALTH ALERT” covered the front doors of the Columbia County Administrative Building as municipal clerks filtered in Monday to report the results of Tuesday’s election.

Reminders of a pandemic were present through signs imploring visitors to sanitize their hands and telling everyone to stand at least 6 feet apart.

Despite concerns over the virus, reporting went relatively smoothly, Columbia County Clerk Sue Moll said. A technical error with some election equipment in Caledonia delayed totals, but as of 8 p.m., only two precincts were left to report results.

“Except for that little glitch, everything has been going really good,” Moll said.

Monday was the deadline for absentee ballots to be filed. The timeline was extended by a judicial ruling. Despite protests and a last-minute attempt to postpone the in-person election by Gov. Tony Evers, people throughout Wisconsin showed up to cast ballots in-person last week, donning face masks, gloves and relying on sanitizing agents to ensure they were protected from COVID-19.

Though a number of municipal clerks who brought their ballots to the building indicated there were larger than usual absentee voter numbers, Moll could not confirm how many ballots cast were absentee and how many were filled out in person. She said the county does not keep track of the number of absentee ballots.

In Columbus, there were 1,895 total ballots cast. With 1,300 designated as absentee ballots, 77% of voters were absentee.

Springvale Clerk Becky Gutzman was the first to report at the building with her ballots. Gutzman said the number of absentee ballot requests for the village was the highest it had ever been at 100.

“Usually I get 10 or 12,” Gutzman said. “I know some places were getting 100 a day, but for me, it was a lot.”

Absentee voters made up 33% of their electorate this election, Gutzman said.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.

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