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Wednesday

April 2014

23

Heavy absentee voting could delay results

Local officials predict strong turnout at polls

The radio and television political attack ads, the annoying candidate robo calls and the bulk-mail campaign brochures are coming to an end today as predominantly Republican Lake Country voters march to the polls to cast ballots in what is expected to be a closely contested presidential campaign.

Local voters are also expected to re-elect a handful of state lawmakers and county officials, many of them running unopposed. They will also choose between former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and Madison Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin in what is expected to be a tight race for the U.S. Senate.

Some Lake Country voters will get to vote for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan twice: once for re-election as the congressman from the First District and again as Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate.

Voter turnout is expected to be heavy - as much as 90 percent or more in some Lake Country communities - but some local election officials were hesitant to predict how many would vote Tuesday because of the unusually high number of absentee ballots that have already been cast and the number of voters who registered during the statewide gubernatorial recall election.

Both parties - but particularly the GOP in Waukesha County - have been using automated phone calls, direct mail and radio advertising to urge their party faithful to vote early by casting absentee ballots either by mail or in person before election day.

State law reduced by a week and a day the time period in which voters could cast absentee ballots in person at municipal halls.

Oconomowoc City Clerk Diane Coenan predicted that 40 percent of the registered voters in the city would cast absentee ballots either in person or by mail.

"We have been too busy to count them all," she said of the number of voters who have come to City Hall to cast absentee ballots in person last week.

Hartland Village Clerk Connie Casper predicted that 30 percent of the village's registered voters would have cast absentee ballots by the end of last week and that turnout would be somewhere between 95 and 100 percent.

"The Village of Pewaukee has been pretty consistent. In president elections we have voter turnout in the low 90-percent. I would expect that, this year, maybe higher," said Deputy Clerk Paul Boenig.

Most Lake Country municipalities have hired additional trained election workers to help process and count the absentee ballots.

The ballots and the names of the voters who cast them were distributed to various polling places Monday by local election officials.

Absentee ballots received in the mail or cast in person are inserted into ballot-counting machines during regular voting hours, if election workers have time, or after the polls are closed.

Some municipal election officials were optimistic the absentee ballots could be counted during the day to avoid delays in tallying the vote after the polls closed.

But others warned that reporting vote totals could be later than usual this election because of the volume of absentee ballots that will have to be counted after the polls close at 8 p.m.

"I don't think you will be getting any results at 8:15," quipped Coenan.

Absentee ballots cast by mail and not received by election day can be counted as late as Friday, provided the ballots were postmarked by election day.

Republican voters in what the GOP refers to as its WOW counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington) are expected to deliver huge pluralities for Romney to help offset the big margins Obama is expected to gain in Democratic strongholds in Madison and Milwaukee, while the Fox River Valley area might be the deciding battleground.

The latest Marquette University Poll last week showed Obama ahead by 8 percent. However, a national poll gave Obama only a 3-point edge.

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