By Shereen Siewert
As of midday on Monday, Wisconsin’s spring primary is still set for Tuesday, April 7, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of voters to the polls.
State elections officials on Monday released key reminders for voters choosing to vote in person in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meagan Wolfe, Wisconisn’s chief elections official, said local election officials are prepared for election day with sanitation supplies and have been trained on social distancing procedures. Those guidelines have been developed with public health officials, Wolfe said.
“Now, we’re asking voters to be careful and patient if they go to the polls on Tuesday,” Wolfe said.
Marathon County Clerk Kim Trueblood said Friday that local results won’t be reported on Tuesday after voting machines close down at 8 p.m., which is the typical practice. Instead, local canvass boards will reconvene on April 13 to process all late arrival absentee ballots. Results will be announced as they come in, Trueblood said.
Tuesday’s election remains a matter of heated debate among lawmakers and is being seen as a national test case in a broader fight over voter access in the age of coronavirus, one that could have major implications for the presidential primary contests ahead. Wisconsin is the only state among several with scheduled primaries to move ahead with in-person voting in the midst of the pandemic.
So far, election plans are in place as scheduled, though the deadline for absentee ballots has been extended, allowing for absentee ballots to be counted through April 13 But the judge, and later a federal appeals court, declined to postpone the election. Republicans have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that it not allow absentee ballots to be counted beyond Tuesday. The court is considering whether to take action.
If in-person voting commences as scheduled, these are ten things to know before heading to the polls on Tuesday:
- Because of poll worker shortages, your polling place may have changed due to consolidation. Before heading out to vote, please double-check your polling location at myvote.wi.gov. Click “Find My Polling Place.”
- Wash your hands before heading to your polling place on Election Day. Hand hygiene is essential for a safe voting experience for everyone at the polls.
- Wash or sanitize your hands again when arriving at your polling place and before voting. A 70% alcohol spray solution will be available at most polling places.
- Things will look different at your polling place. Social distancing and public health related changes have been made to each polling place for this election.
- Please be patient when voting at the polls. The public health procedures being used will slow down some parts of the process when you have to interact with poll workers.
- You may be asked to line up outside your polling place or voting area to ensure only a safe number of voters are in the voting area at one time.
- Social distancing is essential even at your polling place on Election Day. There will be procedures in place to allow for six feet between voters and poll workers to ensure a safe voting experience for everyone.
- Please keep your face-to-face interactions brief with both poll workers and other voters. We want to limit the risk for everyone in the process on Election Day.
- If you are ill and still need to vote on Election Day, curbside voting options are available.
- If you received an absentee ballot, you can return it at your polling place on Election Day if you have not yet returned it to your municipal clerk’s office. The deadline to return absentee ballots to the clerk’s office is 4 p.m. on Monday, April 13.