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Early ballots pour in during final stretch of rancorous race PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 17:30

Presidential contest fuels early voting turnout that has reached 26% in Port

Ozaukee County voters have been turning out in droves for the presidential election, and area clerks are still expecting a brisk turnout at the polls on Tuesday.

By Tuesday night, 2,011 voters in the City of Port Washington had already cast their ballots, City Clerk Susan Westerbeke said — almost surpassing the 2012 presidential election, when 2,145 voters in the city cast early ballots.

That total represents almost 26% of the city’s 7,700 registered voters, Westerbeke noted. In the last three weeks, 220 residents registered to vote, she added.

The highest number of ballots were cast on Friday, Oct. 28, when 169 people voted early, and on Monday, Oct. 31, when another 178 residents voted.

“I would guess Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are going to be extremely busy,” Westerbeke said. “We could do 200 to 300 a day on Thursday or Friday.” 

In the Village of Saukville, Clerk Mary Kay Baumann said about 20% of the village voters — about 524 — had cast their ballots early.

“It’s been going pretty smoothly,” she said.

In the Village of Grafton, where Clerk Kaity Olsen predicted two weeks ago that there could be as many as 200 early ballots cast each day, Administrator Jesse Thyes said, “There’s been a good, steady flow of voters.”

Friday is the last day for voters to cast their ballots early.

“After that, you have to come to the polls on election day to register, if needed, and vote,” Westerbeke stressed.

The contentious fight for president between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump is a big reason for the high projections, they say, as are Congressional and Legislative races.

The nasty tone of this year’s races has caused some people to consider write-in candidates. However, Westerbeke said, only registered write-in candidates will be tallied.

Write-in candidates for most races can register until the end of this week, she said, but the deadline has passed for the presidential election. 

The write-in presidential and vice presidential candidates who have filed include:

Emidio Soltysik and Angela Nicole Walker, Socialist Party USA; Chris Keniston and Deacon Taylor, Veterans Party of America; Marshall Schoenke and James Creighton Mitchell Jr., Independent; Michael A. Maturen and Juan A. Munoz, The American Solidarity Party; Cherunda Fox and Roger Kushner, Honesty, Reparations, Education, No Deficit; Evan McMullin and Nathan Johnson, Courage, Character, Service; Laurence Kotlikoff and Edward E. Leamer, It’s Our Children; Tom Hoefling and Steve Schulin, Life, Family, Constitution; and Joseph Maldonado, Joe Exotic for American People.

“We do not have to tally those who are not registered write-ins,” Westerbeke said. “For many years, we were tallying votes for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. It took a tremendous amount of time.”

Voters can ask poll workers to see the list of registered write-ins, Westerbeke said, but the list isn’t posted, as per the state elections commission. 

The political climate had Westerbeke estimating that this year’s turnout would be between 90% and 92%, just ahead of the turnout during the last presidential election.

In that race, Ozaukee County voters also turned out in droves, with 89.6% of registered voters casting ballots. Sixty-five percent of those voters cast ballots for Republican Mitt Romney, compared to 35% who voted for President Barack Obama.

Four years earlier, when 74.6% of county electors turned out to vote, they backed Republican John McCain over Obama, 60% to 38%.

Westerbeke had a few pieces of advice for voters.

“Plan ahead and allow enough time,” she said. “There will be waiting times — it’s a presidential election. Even if we only had a 70% turnout, that’s a substantial number of people at the polls.”

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. — workers will keep the voting booths open long enough to allow anyone in line at 8 p.m. to vote.

Generally, there is a line when the polls open, Westerbeke said, because people try to vote before heading to work. After about 3:30 p.m. is generally the busiest time at the polls as people scramble to vote after work.

In general, she said, if there are lulls, they occur between 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 2:30 p.m.

“Those are the times when there are going to be fewer people in line,” Westerbeke said.

People need to bring a photo ID, such as a Wisconsin driver’s license, state ID, passport, military or veterans ID, when voting, she said.

When registering to vote, residents need to bring a driver’s license or state ID and, if their identification doesn’t have their current address, they will also need acceptable proof of address such as a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.

Residents need to have lived at their current address for 10 days to vote.

A list of the polling places, acceptable forms of identification and other election information can be found in the insert in this week’s Ozaukee Press.

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