Election updates: Reaction starting to trickle in after Wisconsin votes blue in presidential election
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin staff members are out in force this week to keep you informed on this historic election.
Follow our regular updates, from scene-setting at the polls on Tuesday to results and reaction as races are called.
Results:Statewide results, county breakdowns and more
More:Why Wisconsin election results weren't final on Tuesday
Full coverage:Wisconsin election section
10:05 a.m.: Reaction starting to pour in after Wisconsin votes blue
Several celebrities posted on social media Wednesday, commenting on Wisconsin's vote totals revealing a win for Joe Biden in the presidential election.
That included Kenosha native Mark Ruffalo, whose presence in the preceding months including collaborating on a pro-voting commercial in the state and speaking to community members following unrest in his hometown.
On the CBS "Late Show," host Stephen Colbert pointed out that the state is now full of "Blue Cheeseheads."
"So they smell weird, but they taste great crumbled on a salad made with poached pear and candied walnuts."
Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out winners and losers of the election, including a winner in Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
4:11 p.m.: Despite Rudy Guliani's false claim, ballots did not just materialize
Speaking at a press conference that aired on Fox News, Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Guliani, falsely said that about 120,000 ballots just mysteriously showed up in Wisconsin about 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. — part of “a concerted effort of the crooks that run the Democrat Party.”
Trump's team has announced it will pursue legal action to stop vote-tallying in Pennsylvania because of lack of transparency and has already expressed desire for a recount in Wisconsin, a state declared for Joe Biden earlier Wednesday.
Claims similar to Guliani's have made the rounds citing irregularities in the Wisconsin election, unfounded claims that are debunked by Politifact.
3:53 p.m.: Voter confusion in Glendale solved with an assist from ... Georgia's Stacy Abrams
Glendale resident Larry Sandler submitted his absentee ballot last week at Glendale City Hall but later discovered his ballot wasn’t marked as received online, he said in a Facebook post.
Sandler, a former reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said he was informed of his voting status after receiving a robocall from Stacy Abrams, a former Georgia gubernatorial candidate. The call included the comment that according to records, Sandler hadn't yet voted.
“I called Glendale City Hall, and fortunately they were able to find my ballot and promise me it would be counted,” he said.
Glendale City Clerk Megan Humitz was out of office on Election Day after testing positive for the coronavirus last week. City Administrator Rachel Safstrom said she was unable to speak on Sandler’s situation, but it is possible that the check-in step on WisVote could be missed.
“This step missed does not mean the ballot would not be processed at the polls,” Safstrom said in an email. “It just means they could not see it was processed online.”
Safstrom said if a person drops off an absentee ballot at the polls on Election Day, it wouldn’t go to the clerk, but would be processed at the polls, and part of the final reconciliation logged in by the clerk’s office.
“If any resident contacted us with concern we would locate the ballot,” Safstrom said. “Residents can always review their voting record on MyVote. Final reconciliation for this election will be completed in the upcoming weeks.”
Safstrom said there were several residents who cited ballot issues, only to find out they believed the website’s status meant that the resident received the ballot, but not the municipality.
— Eddie Morales
3:40: Rock band R.E.M. salutes Wisconsin with songs from classic Madison show
Shortly after The Associated Press called Wisconsin for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election Wednesday, R.E.M offered a "nod" to the state — and shared old songs recorded in Madison.
The left-leaning band — which officially broke up in 2011, but still maintains social media channels — shared a YouTube link on Twitter to recordings of a couple of songs from a 1982 set at Madison club Merlyn's, of "Catapult" and "Radio Free Radio."
"A nod to Wisconsin from the mists of time … ," read the accompanying tweet.
Wisconsin being called for Biden brought the Democratic challenger closer to achieving the needed 270 electoral college votes to clinch the presidency. Biden received about 20,000 more votes in Wisconsin than President Donald Trump, but the Trump campaign said it would call for a recount.
— Piet Levy
3:35 p.m.: Despite ballot glitch, Outagamie County avoids delays
Thousands of misprinted ballots led to many additional hours of work for poll workers in Outagamie County on Election Day but didn't lead to any significant delays in counting votes.
The municipalities with the most misprinted ballots had enough poll workers to handle the workload, Outagamie County Clerk Lori O'Bright told The Post-Crescent on Wednesday morning.
"I am very pleased with how hard everyone worked," O'Bright said. "It was amazing, so I appreciate all the hard work of our municipalities and their poll workers."
The last results in Outagamie County were reported about 2 a.m. Wednesday.
The misprint was visible in a black square — known as a timing mark — near the edge of the ballots. It was small, but still large enough that machines used to scan ballots weren't able to accurately read them.
To make sure those votes were still counted, poll workers had to duplicate the ballots by transferring votes to a new ballot that could be read by machine. The process required two workers and typically takes about four minutes per ballot.
— Chris Mueller
2:12 p.m.: Two intriguing District Attorney races
To no real surprise, the Waushara County District Attorney who abandoned her job just two months after appointment by Gov. Tony Evers, lost her bid to keep the job via election.
And In Iron County, incumbent DA Matthew Tingstad defeated a challenger who got in the race this summer after questions arose about whether Tingstad ever moved to Wisconsin from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan after his election in 2016.
His opponent, Doug Muskett, was another Upper Michigan lawyer, who said he made a point of moving across the Montreal River to Hurley even before the election, though he could legally run as a Michigan resident, just like Tingstad had.
Muskett got well more than the needed 200 write-in votes during an August primary to get on Tuesday's ballot as a Democrat.
But in the election, Tingstad, running as a Republican in a county went heavily for President Donald Trump, beat Muskett by less than 1,000 votes, 2,398 to 1,506.
2:01 p.m.: Milwaukee leaders praise Election Commission effort
Milwaukee leaders on Wednesday applauded the work of the city’s Election Commission to prepare and execute Tuesday’s election, which required processing almost 170,000 absentee ballots and took place as the state’s coronavirus cases have been rising at an alarming pace.
In April, as the pandemic was ramping up, the city made national headlines for the challenges its voters faced in casting their ballots. At that point, the city was hemorrhaging poll workers and opened only five polling locations on Election Day.
That wasn’t the case Tuesday, when the city opened 173 neighborhood-based polling sites. It also had 15 absentee ballot drop boxes and more than a dozen early in-person voting locations.
Results from the city’s nearly 170,000 absentee ballots were taken from Central Count in downtown to the Milwaukee County Courthouse about 3 a.m. Wednesday.
“I want to say a huge thank you to Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg, her staff, all election workers and volunteers,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett tweeted late Wednesday morning. “I’m grateful to everyone who worked around the clock yesterday and into the morning to get our ballots processed as quickly as possible.”
He said Woodall-Vogg and her staff worked hard in the months leading up to Tuesday to organize a safe election in the middle of the pandemic.
Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson said in a statement that the city “put forth an historic infrastructure this election to ensure that all residents could vote safely and securely during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Johnson, who worked a shift at Central Count, credited Woodall-Vogg with putting together an efficient, smooth operation to accurately count absentee ballots.
“I applaud Ms. Woodall-Vogg, Election Commission staff, and all of the poll workers and volunteers who worked into the night to sustain our democratic process of free and fair elections,” he said. “As a city we are very proud and grateful for your service.”
Under Wisconsin law, the city could only begin counting absentee ballots at 7 a.m. on Election Day. Central Count workers worked in shifts to process all of the absentee ballots.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley on Wednesday afternoon also thanked those who worked and volunteered in Tuesday’s election – and the months leading up to it.
And he thanked county residents for voting.
“More people participating in the process and exercising their right to vote is a testament to the level of engagement across Milwaukee County and across the political spectrum, and to all those who helped make sure the COVID-19 pandemic did not get in the way of democracy,” he said in a statement. “These are the true heroes of the election process and we are forever grateful for their tireless work.”
— Alison Dirr
1:33 p.m.: Associated Press officially calls Wisconsin for Biden
The Associated Press declared Democrat Joe Biden the winner in Wisconsin on Wednesday, after the state once again went down to the wire in the presidential election.
Unofficial results showed Biden with a lead of about 20,000 votes, and the Trump campaign in a statement already vowed it would request a recount.
Biden's lead is very close to Trump's winning margin in 2016 over Hillary Clinton.
Biden overtook Trump in the early morning hours when the City of Milwaukee finally reported its roughly 170,000 absentee votes, which were overwhelmingly Democratic. Then late returns from Green Bay and the city of Kenosha added to his slender lead.
— Read full story from Craig Gilbert and Patrick Marley
1:24 p.m.: Results from lone outstanding Wisconsin precinct slowed by missing clerk
Just one Wisconsin precinct hasn’t reported voting totals, and county election officials in the area say they don’t know when they’ll know the results.
Richland County Clerk Victor Vlasak said the Willow township clerk went home sick from the polls on Tuesday, and he hasn’t been able to reach her or anyone in the township.
Vlasak said the clerk typically would provide voting totals by phone on Election Day. That didn’t happen and he said he can't find her or anyone there to answer questions or bring in ballots from the single polling location in the township.
"I don’t know what we’re going to do … we need those numbers," he said.
Vlasak, who has been clerk since 1988, said this is the first time he hasn't received a call from all polling locations with voting totals. He said everyone is due to bring election materials to his office by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
He said he’s concerned about going to the clerk’s home because she is sick.
— Molly Beck
11:53 a.m.: Scott Walker points out unlikelihood of recount impacting result
No stranger to close elections, former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker pointed out that a recount in Wisconsin would have a tall order in overcoming a 20,000-vote spread.
"After recount in 2011 race for WI Supreme Court, there was a swing of 300 votes," Walker tweeted. "After recount in 2016 Presidential race in WI, @realDonaldTrump numbers went up by 131. As I said, 20,000 is a high hurdle."
Walker lost his re-election bid in 2018 by 29,000 votes, an outcome outside the margin of 1% that allowed for a recount. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin in 2016 by 22,748 votes, a tally that gained ground after a recount requested by the campaign of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate.
RELATED:Trump campaign vows to seek recount as Wisconsin election officials say Joe Biden has 20,000-vote margin
Biden appears to have won Wisconsin by a margin of 20,517 votes, with all precincts reported. It is within the 1% margin to allow for a recount if requested, which the Trump campaign has said it will pursue.
— JR Radcliffe
11:33 a.m.: Officials say all votes are counted, and Biden has 20,000-vote lead
After all the upheaval of the past year and the drama and turmoil of President Donald Trump's first term, Wisconsin once again went down to the wire in the 2020 election, with Democrat Joe Biden holding a lead of around 20,000 votes, according to unofficial returns.
That is very close to Trump's winning margin in 2016.
Biden overtook Trump in early morning hours when the city of Milwaukee finally reported its roughly 170,000 absentee votes, which were overwhelmingly Democratic. Then late returns from Green Bay and the city of Kenosha added to his slender lead.
Trump had nurtured a lead of more than 100,000 votes before that.
Meagan Wolfe, the director of the state Elections Commission, told NBC News on Wednesday that all ballots have been counted, though the results have not yet been made final.
Read the full story from Craig Gilbert.
10:35 a.m.: Both Biden, Trump campaigns taking notice of Wisconsin's thin margin
The campaigns of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are taking notice that Wisconsin could be headed for a recount because of its thin margin.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien told reporters Wednesday that Wisconsin was in “recount territory,” just hours after Trump said he wanted all vote-counting to stop even though many legally cast ballots around the country had not yet been tallied.
In its own call with reporters, Biden aides said the former vice president was confident he would keep his lead in Wisconsin even if there is a recount. They said they believed Biden would secure the last Electoral College votes he needs as the outstanding states finalize their results in coming days.
Trump could seek a recount in Wisconsin if he loses the state by less than 1 percentage point. If his loss is between a quarter of a point and 1 point he would have to pay for the recount, which would likely cost a few million dollars.
Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer called Trump’s demands to stop counting ballots extraordinary and unacceptable. He noted Republican lawmakers in states like Wisconsin didn’t allow absentee ballots to be counted before Election Day, which contributed to delays in tabulating the ballots.
“They were looking to logjam that process,” Bauer said.
– Patrick Marley
7:40 a.m.: Are we headed for a Wisconsin recount?
The presidential race in Wisconsin looks like it will be decided by the thinnest of margins, likely putting it in recount territory.
Unofficial returns in Wisconsin showed Democrat Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump by about 20,000 votes as of early Wednesday. That's a tiny share of the 3.2 million votes that were cast.
If the race stays within 1 percentage point, the losing candidate can force a recount. If the margin is larger than that, there's no chance for one.
Before any decision could be made on a recount, the official results need to be finalized over the coming weeks.
A recount in 2016 resulted in few changes to the final tally in Wisconsin. That year, Trump won the state by fewer than 23,000 votes out of about 3 million cast.
Read the full story from Patrick Marley.
4 a.m. Wisconsin again goes down to the wire
Democrat Joe Biden overtook Trump in early morning hours when the city of Milwaukee finally reported its roughly 170,000 absentee votes, which were overwhelmingly Democratic.
Trump had nurtured a lead of more than 100,000 votes before that.
With Biden up by around 8,000 votes, there were still votes to be reported from the city of Kenosha and Green Bay, Democratic-leaning communities.
While Trump did worse in much of metropolitan Milwaukee and Madison than he did four years ago, he did a little better in much of northern and central Wisconsin. The urban-rural political divide widened.
Read the full story from Craig Gilbert
3:10 a.m. Milwaukee's 169,341 absentee ballots have been counted, results will be be reported
Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg headed to Milwaukee County with a police escort and the results of the 169,341 absentee ballots that had been returned to the city.
She delivered the results, stored on electronic drives, to Milwaukee County Elections Director Julietta Henry.
The county will update its website with the results of the votes. Henry estimated they would be updated withiin 30 minutes — sometime before 4 a.m.
1:13 a.m.: Ballot processing continues, counting expected to take a few more hours
Milwaukee’s Central Count was pretty quiet around 1 a.m. as the processing continued after many of the election workers had left for the day. The whir of ballot machines had largely died down.
It’s still expected to take a few hours before the city’s 169,341 returned absentee ballots are fully processed and uploaded to the Milwaukee County website.
— Alison Dirr
12:15 p.m.: AWOL Waushara County DA ousted
Waushara County will have a new district attorney after Republican Matthew Leusink beat Democrat Laura Waite.
Gov. Tony Evers appointed Waite to the position in April. However, just two months after her appointment, Waite stopped showing up for work and a judge appointed a special administrative prosecutor in her absence.
— Natalie Brophy
11:26 p.m.: Absentee ballot count expected to be finished by 3 a.m.
Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson just reported that counting of all the absentee ballots should be finished by 3 a.m.
He said Milwaukee Central Count has processed 140,000 absentee ballots with about 30,000 left to be counted, moving up the finish time by an hour or two.
Christenson also said three of the eight municipalities counting their own absentee ballots have finished - Shorewood, Greendale and South Milwaukee. He expects West Allis to be done in one to 1 1/2 hours.
— Meg Jones
11:22 p.m.: Steil wins re-election in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District
Republican Congressman Bryan Steil declared victory over Democrat Roger Polack at a watch party at Route 20 bar and restaurant in Racine County.
“Tonight we sent a message, loud and clear, that the violence that we saw in Kenosha must never happen again,“ Steil said. “Everyone has a right to feel safe. Everyone.”
Steil said he will continue to “move our country forward.“
He also reminded the crowd that a lot of races haven’t been called yet in Wisconsin including the presidential race but he’s “feeling good” about Republicans chances.
— Ricardo Torres
10:52 p.m.: Election observers from Europe surprised by young voters
Two election observers at Milwaukee’s central count Tuesday night had crossed the Atlantic Ocean to be there.
Farah Karimi from The Netherlands and Gergely Arato of Hungary, both national-level elected officials in their respective countries, had come with the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, which the U.S. is also a member of.
“It was very good to see how many good people are working for the success of the election,” Arato said, noting he encountered poll workers who care about the work they’re doing.
He was surprised by the number of young people who turned out to vote in every polling place they visited.
It was clear, they said, that the people they talked to wanted to be part of deciding who would lead the country.
The pair estimated they had visited 11 or 12 polling locations in Milwaukee and Washington counties on Tuesday before stopping by the city’s central count operation.
In Wisconsin, election observers do not need to be Wisconsin residents. They also don't have to be U.S. citizens or live in the U.S.
Karimi and Arato were interested in Wisconsin not solely because the state allows international observers but also because of its status as a key swing state in the 2020 election.
The pair arrived in Milwaukee on Monday and will leave Wednesday, though they said they had been in Washington D.C. since Friday learning about election law, campaign finance and more.
— Alison Dirr
10:48 p.m.: Volunteers help out at polls in Port Washington
Port Washington City Clerk Susan Westerbeke said a lot of volunteers stepped forward to work across the city’s three polling sites.
She said they brought on extra poll workers to train volunteers in advance of Election Day.
Westerbeke said plenty of voters registered today, but the amount was similar to the 2016 presidential election.
With the volume of absentee ballots received, Westerbeke said they’re hoping to have everything counted by 11 p.m. or midnight.
She said about 80% of absentee ballots have been processed by 8 p.m.
“We didn’t have any issues with electioneering at all, or voter intimidation,” she said.
— Eddie Morales
10:35 p.m.: People in West Allis cast votes nearly two hours past closing time
Long lines in West Allis meant some voters cast their ballots around 9:45 p.m., according to WISN-TV reporter Ben Jordan.
And at least one woman was turned away as she tried to get into the line just after 8 p.m., according to WISN.
“We are aware of long voting lines at several West Allis polling locations,” West Allis Mayor Dan Devine said in a tweet.
— Sophie Carson
10:11 p.m.: Some jurisdictions ran low on ballots, Elections Commission official says
In five counties in Wisconsin, local clerks had to request more ballots because they were running low, according to Tim Murtaugh, President Donald Trump’s campaign communications director.
Murtaugh made the comments on PBS Tuesday evening.
Meagan Wolfe at the state Elections Commission said there were some reports this evening of some small jurisdictions running low on ballots, but they contacted their counties and got more.
"The counties were able to get them the ballots they needed to get through the night," Wolfe said.
She did not say which jurisdictions asked for more ballots.
— Sophie Carson and Patrick Marley
9:41 p.m.: Milwaukee County Clerk reaffirms that complete results won’t be expected until early morning
Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said 432 out of 478 polling places have reported which is typical for this time on election night.
"Things are progressing as we were expecting." That does not include absentee totals. "They're still counting absentees," said Christenson.
He reiterated what Julietta Henry said an hour ago, that complete vote totals will not be done until "well into the morning hours."
— Meg Jones
9:32 p.m.: Ballot workers advised not to discuss results
Just before polls closed at 8 p.m., Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg cautioned workers processing ballots at the city’s central count location not to discuss the results of the election, audibly gasp or have other reactions as results start to come in.
The results from Milwaukee’s absentee ballots are expected around 4 a.m., officials said Tuesday evening.
Around 7:30 p.m., it was announced that workers for the city had counted 102,310 absentee ballots out of an estimated 169,000 returned.
Still outstanding were some absentee ballots from the city’s 15 drop boxes, but Mayor Tom Barrett said at a press conference that he did not expect a significant influx since the drop boxes had been emptied throughout the day.
The results from the city’s 173 polling places were sent via modem to Milwaukee County about 8 p.m. The first results released by the county will solely be from polling places.
“I think it’s amazing how many people, during a pandemic, continue to believe in this country, believe in this community and want to be involved in our democratic process,” Barrett said, thanking voters who turned out Tuesday.
The absentee ballot figure will be released by the county once all the ballots have been counted, hopefully by 4 a.m.
Woodall-Vogg said once the absentee count is finished, she will have a police escort to take encrypted flash drives to the county. The county will then manually load the results into the reporting software and report it all at once on the county website.
Woodall-Vogg said about 4,000 poll workers in the field and at central count Tuesday “made a very smooth Election Day possible.”
— Alison Dirr
8:37 p.m.: Expect to wait for final results, director says
Julietta Henry, Milwaukee County Board of Elections director, announced at the county courthouse that the final results from the presidential election will not be done earlier than 5 a.m. Wednesday.
Workers at the so-called “central count” location in Milwaukee began counting absentee ballots at 7 a.m. Tuesday with three shifts counting until they finish. The ballots include those mailed, put in dropboxes and cast during early in-person voting.
Under state law, the totals from absentee ballots won't be released until the very last one passes through a tabulating machine. Votes from individual polling places will be released when they're sent to the county.
The mechanical tabulators can process 1,200 to 2,000 ballots per hour. Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg expects the machines to be the busiest between 10 p.m. and whenever the final ballots are counted in the wee hours of Wednesday.
— Sophie Carson, Meg Jones
8:17 p.m.: Polls closed in Wauwatosa
Wauwatosa officials came to Hart Park at 7:45 p.m. to collect the final absentee ballots that were dropped off there, as the ballots had to be at central count at city hall by 8 p.m.
There were 2 ballots inside, as the last pick-up of ballots was around 6 p.m. It’s about a 7 minute drive to city hall from the park. The city also closed the drop box it has at city hall at 7:45 p.m.
The city has counted around 20,000 of the absentee 24,000 ballots so far, per city officials. There are around 34,000 registered voters in the city.
In September, the city said they’d need around 50 more poll workers to help count absentee ballots. Twenty Wauwatosa high school students helped with the central county operation today as well.
Voter turnout in the city for the 2016 election was at 89%.
— Evan Casey
8:15 p.m.: Voters confused about polling site location
Dozens of people showed up at Zablocki Library on Election Day, thinking they could vote there, when their polling place was elsewhere.
Zablocki Library was a polling place on Election Day, but only voters living in two certain wards could vote there. Before Tuesday, the library was used as an early voting site, open to any eligible voters in the city.
“I think there has been some confusion because when they had early voting, if they were in different wards, they could still come here,” said Chief Inspector Linda Leaf. “But for today, … they have to go to their regular polling site.”
The polling place had a couple of poll workers at a time stationed outside the library Tuesday, asking voters for their address and checking if they were at the right polling place.
Mike McBride, a poll worker at Zablocki, estimated he had to direct about 40 voters to other polling places.
A total of 250 voters had cast a ballot on Election Day at Zablocki Library as of 6:15 p.m., Leaf said.
— Sarah Volpenhein
8:09 p.m.: Few late voters spotted at Sholes Campus School / Donald W. Reagan high school
Twenty minutes before polls close, there are very few voters coming to Sholes Campus School / Donald W. Reagan high school.
Elections inspector Jack Gaboury said they had lines with about 40 people or about half an hour wait early morning but then things slowed down. Gaboury estimated that half the voters cast their ballots by mail or during early voting.
There wasn’t an after 5 p.m. voting rush. They’ve had plenty of poll workers, including two who speak Spanish and about five observers total.
Jesus Gonzalez, 18, voted there just a few minutes before the polls closing time. He voted for Biden. He says he wants as president someone who can take care of the epidemic and keep the country together, “not separated by racism.”
— Maria Perez
8:06 p.m.: Cudahy official reports high voter turnout
After voting at South Milwaukee’s city hall at about 6:20 p.m., Brandon Kowalski said both presidential candidates said some “messed up” things but he went with the current president for a second term. “I like Trump better,” he said.
Kowalski also voted for Trump in the 2016 election.
Similarly, South Milwaukee resident Rebecca Pappalardo said she voted for Trump because of his “achievements” and “promises kept.” She also voted for him in 2016.
Leisa Jean, also from South Milwaukee, wasn’t able to vote in 2016 because she was out of the country. Jean called the 2020 presidential race “significant, dramatic and emotional.” The voting experience in South Milwaukee was overall pleasant and well coordinated, she said. However, Jean did take issue with how close people had to get at the registration table. Jean didn’t want to say outright who she voted for, but said in some countries “socialism isn’t a bad word.” However, she said that system may not work in a country like the United States.
In neighboring Cudahy, resident Ed Owczarek also stuck with his previous party vote in 2016 and voted for Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Owczarek said the biggest issues this election are the pandemic and economy.
Cudahy’s Director of Office Services Kelly Sobieski said turnout has been strong and while she doesn’t have the exact numbers yet, “it’s a safe bet” that Cudahy’s voter turnout is around 90%. She said the city does traditionally have a high turnout for presidential elections, however, so she doesn’t think this is a record setting year.
Sobieski received high praise from first-time poll worker Karen Martin. After seeing numerous ads asking for help, Martin took time off work and decided to volunteer. She said she was very impressed with Sobieski who helped her to learn the ropes.
“Her planning was stellar,” Martin said.
One thing that stood out to Martin was how in-depth the process was which she said you can’t know until you’re working behind the scenes. The “terror of missing one pink slip” is real, she said while taking a quick puff of a cigarette on a break. She called the whole experience “incredible and very emotional.”
“If my two hands and 10 hours of time can help get it done and get it done well, I’ll do it,” she said.
Despite the stress, Martin said she would volunteer to work the polls again “without a doubt.”
— Erik Hanley
7:56 p.m.: A few late Madison voters make it to polls
At Steamfitters Local 601 in Madison, only a few voters made their way into the polling place in the final hour before polls closed. Chief inspector Hayden Stone said about 2,700 people voted at the location in person, and poll workers processed an additional 3,300 absentee ballots. It was a busy day, but the line was gone by 7 p.m., surprising for a polling place hosting 9 wards. Stone said the day went smoothly, no issues with electioneering or bad attitudes.
“The general attitude was way more lighthearted than anticipated,” he said. “The number of excited people was higher than usual.”
— Laura Schulte
7:55 p.m.: Roughly 300 people go through polling site’s doors
Catherine McCoy, the chief election inspector at the Milwaukee Housing Authority, said they had roughly 300 people come through their doors. “Turnout has been better than expected,” she said. The location serves two wards.
— Talis Shelbourne
7:39 p.m.: Postal Service disregards court order to do ballot sweeps in Wisconsin, other swing states
The U.S. Postal Service disregarded a federal judge's order Tuesday to sweep mail processing facilities serving 15 states, including Wisconsin.
The agency said late Tuesday it would instead stick to its own inspection schedule.
"Defendants have been working to comply with this Court's Order, which requires a 'sweep' of postal facilities within several specified districts, while recognizing the limitations caused by time and the Postal Service's pre-existing Postal Inspection processes," the U.S.P.S. response read. "As of the time of this filing, that process remains ongoing."
The agency has disclosed that more than 300,000 ballots nationwide could not be traced.
— Mary Spicuzza, Cary Spivak
7:21 p.m.: Lines fade away in Shorewood as Election Night continues
Lines were long to start the day at both Shorewood polling locations, but nonexistent by 6:30 p.m at the Shorewood Village Center.
Village Clerk Sara Bruckman said absentee ballots were over half processed by 2:30 p.m.
A woman from the district attorney’s office was called to the voting site early afternoon to inform a man holding a Biden sign that he was too close to the building, said Beth Hengst, a greeter at the village center.
Hegnst said the man cooperated, and asked for a map to see the nearest distance he could hold the sign at.
Hengst started her shift at 2 p.m. and noted that most voters have been college students who weren’t registered to vote.
Monica Glowacz, a 24-year-old nursing student, voted for the first time. She preferred not to share her vote, but said she voted for a different party than her family.
“Before, I was more influenced by my family, but now I grew up so I definitely have my own opinions,” said Glowacz.
— Eddie Morales
7:14 p.m.: Kerry Washington’s tweet puts Milwaukee in spotlight
Actress, producer, and director Kerry Washington tweeted “All eyes are on Milwaukee right now!!!!!!! You have the power. Sooooo much power. Polls close at 8pm!!! Let's gooooooooooo!” and tagged the Wisconsin Democrats’ Twitter account shortly before 7 p.m.
She included a video with her tweet, which had been watched more than 37,000 times by 7:10 p.m.
Washington has 5.4 million Twitter followers.
— Hannah Kirby
7 p.m.: Inspector praises voter turnout at North Division High School
Chief Election Inspector Karen Thomas at the North Division High School polling location said about 70 voters have come through and they have had seven election observers throughout the day. “I think the turnaround was good all the way around,” she said.
North Division High School, too, saw some fresh faces at the polls this year.
Gabriella Ingram turned 18 in September and said she was coming out to vote because, “I want Joe Biden in office ... because I want Trump out.”
James Ingram, her older brother, is voting in his second election.In 2016, he voted for Clinton and is sticking with the Democratic candidate this time too. “I’m a schoolteacher and I’m worried about a lot of people during this election,” he said.
— Talis Shelbourne
6:55 p.m.: Barnes and Crowley make final push to get people to polls
Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley made plea a little after 6 p.m. for voters to get to the polls and cast their ballots.
Crowley urged voters to head to their poll stations, saying that as long as they are in line before 8 o’clock they can still cast their ballots.
“Please, make sure to let your voice be heard,” he said.
Barnes repeated the plea: “If you have not gone to vote yet, please do so.”
Barnes said he doesn’t have any estimated ranges for the turnout in Milwaukee or Wisconsin, but that he is confident in Wisconsin voters.
— Maria Perez
6:32 p.m.: National Guard members deployed to help at polls
About 220 National Guard members were deployed to Wisconsin’s polls to fill in as poll workers, and another 200 are available as backups if more are needed tonight, according to the state Elections Commission.
At a virtual news conference this evening, commission director Meagan Wolfe said no major poll worker shortages or other problems at the polls have been reported so far today.
Results are expected to come in late because of the nearly 2 million absentee ballots that need to be counted. Milwaukee’s results aren’t expected until 3 a.m. at the earliest.
“If unofficial results aren’t available until tomorrow morning, it doesn’t mean anything went wrong,” Wolfe said. “Our election inspectors, they’re going to continue to value accuracy over speed.”
Of nearly 2 million absentee ballots submitted in Wisconsin, about 970 had some kind of deficiency that could prevent them from being counted, according to the state’s top elections official.
That’s just a small percentage of the overall absentee ballots in the state.
When voters submit absentee ballots, they must be enclosed in an envelope that includes their signature, the signature of a witness and the address of the witness. Without all three, the ballot won’t be counted.
Clerks often alert voters well before Election Day if there are problems on their ballot envelopes so they can fix them.
Wolfe said some of the approximately 970 absentee ballots with problems may be fixed before polls close at 8 p.m.
— Patrick Marley
6:29 p.m.: Election inspector highlights strong voter turnout
For Chief Election Inspector Georgia Collins, November at Washington Park Library marks her 33rd year working in elections. This year, she said, turnout has been high.
“The turnout is beautiful, it was better than Obama’s (election),” she said. “And they got these kids out here and that’s what I want.”
She said most of the day has gone smoothly, and she has no worries about voting, although she hopes there are no more disruptions outside the building.
A speeding car, followed by several police vehicles, crashed on West Lisbon Avenue around 6 p.m. Collins said the crash drew all the attention of voters inside and outside the building.
“I’m just worried about the street activities,” she said, pointing in the direction of the wrecked car. “I don’t want no fights, no fires.”
— Talis Shelbourne
6:18 p.m.: Green Bay total approaches 2016 level
Voters in the city of Green Bay had cast nearly 40,000 ballots as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor Eric Genrich said; the total of 39,298 is roughly 70% of the number of registered voters in the city.
All ballots cast, including early and Election Day voting, will be counted before poll workers end their workday, the mayor said. He expected that the count will continue at least until early Wednesday morning.
"We're making good progress," he said. "But we still have a ways to go."
The vote total of absentee ballots and those cast Tuesday by 4 p.m. equated to about 84% of the total cast in the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton election in 2016.
One of multiple tallying machines being used to count ballots experienced a jam early in the day. Genrich said a technician from the company that manufactures the machines was able to repair the problem.
— Doug Schneider
6:15 p.m.: Kosciuszko Community Center sees steady stream of voters
Chief inspector Terry Longo said that at most they have had a line with three to four people at Kosciuszko Community Center.
He said they have been busy though, with over 300 people voting today.
Longo said they have had 13 observers, and plenty of poll workers, some of whom speak Spanish.
One pers, Precious Jimenez, voted for her first time. She says it made her feel good and important.
— Maria Perez
6:05 p.m.: She brought her sealed ballot and dog
Diana Lopez showed up at Milwaukee German Immersion School ready to drop off her ballot in a sealed envelope.
She was told by poll workers that those could only be returned in drop boxes, but if Lopez wanted she could vote in-person and they would destroy her sealed ballot.
No big deal, she just needed to go home a few blocks away to get her photo ID.
“That’s why it wasn’t a problem,” Lopez said. “I’m sure if somebody else had to do that, they probably would not have.”
So Lopez left with her young daughter and tiny dog, after some petting by a poll worker, then returned five minutes later.
After waiting in line about 20 minutes, Lopez voted in the school’s gymnasium, dog in tow.
“She’s a corgipoo,” Lopez said. “She’s only seven months old.”
She came out still with her sealed ballot.
“They said I could destroy it at home,” Lopez said.
— Ben Steele
5:49 p.m.: Lines calm down, voting goes smoothly at Kenosha Bible Church
The line at Kenosha Bible Church stretched down the block before the polls opened. But, eventually, that morning crowd calmed down, and the day went smoothly for poll workers and voters.
Khris Bellaire recently moved and had to reregister.
“I’ve probably been here 10, maybe 15 minutes but only because I had to register,” Bellaire said.
Going into Election Day, Bellaire said he “wasn’t really swayed on both sides,” but ended up voting for Donald Trump.
“Just because of the things he’s done and the things he said he was going to do versus Biden who hasn’t really done anything in the whole 47 years he’s been in office,” Bellaire said adding his vote was both for Trump and against Biden. “I was giving both the benefit of the doubt… I just can’t wait for it to be over now.“
Stacy Delaney said the voting process was easy but this election has been emotional for her.
“I supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, I was a little disappointed with Joe Biden,“ Delaney said. “but not disappointed enough to not vote for him. I don’t think I can take four more years of Donald Trump.“
David Mendlik said the voting was “smooth and painless.”
“You got to go through all the weeds, find what you think is true and what you think is right and vote with your gut,” Mendlik said on how he viewed this election.
Mendlik didn’t want to say who he supported in the presidential election “because of all the fallout that’s predicted by the Democrats.“
“Every time they’ve talked they said if Trump wins there’s going to be chaos and protests and riots,“ Mendlik said. ”In this day and age we have to take that kind of stuff serious.“
— Ricardo Torres
5:49 p.m.: Souls to the Polls finds success in other states
The Souls to the Polls operation offering free rides to Milwaukee voters has gone national.
Coordinator Norma Balentine said her volunteers have booked Uber and Lyft rides for voters in New Haven, Connecticut, and St. Louis – in addition to the dozens booked in Milwaukee – after callers in other states found their number online.
Souls volunteers fielded several calls for rides, in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Minnesota and elsewhere. They initially turned callers away, but then decided, “why not?” said Balentine.
The volunteers staffing the Souls to the Polls’ Zoom-based call center also come from all over – places like Illinois, California and even Alaska.
Jeff Powers was taking calls at his home in Palmer, Alaska, a solidly Republican area about 40 miles outside of Anchorage. A geologist and environmental consultant, Powers had planned to travel to Milwaukee and offer free rides to voters. But he was persuaded to help online instead because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Voters in Wisconsin have more power,” he said. “I wanted to apply my resources in an area where I could make a difference.”
— Annysa Johnson
5:20 p.m.: Voters want their ballots to count
There’s a new image emerging in this year’s election: the persistent voter.
Organizers and volunteers with the faith-based coalition Common Ground said they worked with several voters Tuesday who were determined to cast their ballots, despite barriers that in the past might have caused them to give up.
“The overall trend I’ve seen today is people just being so persistent in voting,” said Jennifer O’Hear, executive director of Common Ground, which has more than 150 volunteers working to get out the vote on Tuesday, including poll protection teams at several sites aimed at ensuring everyone who turned out to vote got to do so.
“I can’t believe how many people who got sent home to get more information and they came back,” she said. “Or people who were sent to two and three different polling sites.”
“We were busy all day with people who needed help,” she said.
In one case, an attorney had to intervene after a poll worker at Hillside Family Resource Center told a voter she’d have to go home and find her absentee ballot, O’Hear said. In another, at Starms Discovery Learning Center, volunteers worked with the Department of Motor Vehicles to get an emailed copy of a voter’s ID, which had been lost with his wallet.
Zipporah Turnbull, who worked to troubleshoot problems for several voters at Starms, said one man was turned away because he’d moved and didn’t have proof of his new address. She urged him to go home and scour his house for paperwork. “He was really down when he left. But he came back,” she said. “I told him, ‘we’re going to do this together,’” she said. “He made my day.”
— Annysa Johnson
4:53 p.m.: Voces de la Frontera sends in translators
When a church voting site in a Latino neighborhood in Waukesha opened without Spanish speaking poll workers, Voces de la Frontera sent two election observers in to help with translating, said Voces spokeswoman Jacquelyn Kovarik. The observers remained at the Evangelical & Reformed United Church of Christ throughout the day.
— John Fauber
4:47 p.m.: 'I just want to see change come about'
Ebony Shelton voted in 2016 for Clinton and said that she felt the precautions were safe enough that she could vote in person this during this presidential election.
“I just felt that it was very important and there’s a lot at stake," she said.
She added that she believes that Biden “has our best interest at heart” and also said, “I hope he can continue with some of the things that Obama had going.”
Trump, she said, 'didn't align with my personal values.'
“Anytime you take a stab at someone for what they believe, that does it for me."
Marie Hyde said voting on Election Day was a tradition for her.
“I (voted) to make a difference. If one vote would do it, I want it to be mine,” she said.
She voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and said she was voting for Biden because she likes what he says. She also described his choice of Kamala Harris, the first woman of Black and Indian ancestry to run on a major ticket, was “beautiful.”
On Trump, she said, “He ain't s***,” later adding, “I just want to see a change come about.”
— Talis Shelbourne
4:44 p.m.: Oconomowoc negotiates unusual election
In the city of Oconomowoc, Clerk Diane Coenen said this election is the first time she has had observers at all four of her polling locations who spent the entire day there.
“Typically if I get one observer, they don’t necessarily stay the entire day,” Coenen said. “Right now, they’re there for the entire day.”
Coenen also said the city had some voters with COVID-19 who voted curbside. While poll workers have PPE available, one told Coenen they were uncomfortable with it.
“Even though they have garb and face masks on, now they’ve touched the ballot, you put the ballot in the machine and now that ballot with potential germs is in with other ballots. At the end of the night you’re handling those ballots. It’s a little concerning for them. They feel that is not something they should have to do, especially when the voter in their vehicle is not wearing a mask.”
— Evan Frank
4:41 p.m.: City official: 'What's really important to me is that America stop being so angrily divided'
Lafayette Crump, Milwaukee’s Commissioner of City Development, was at the South Division High School poll site this afternoon.
“What’s really important to me is that America stop being so angrily divided” he said. “I am also worried about some of the language that’s stoked the idea that patiently counting votes means something nefarious is going on."
— Rick Barrett
4:41 p.m.: Community confusion around Mitchell Street Library location
More than 50 people showed up at the Mitchell Street Library on election day thinking they could vote there, apparently not knowing that it was only an early voting site that had stopped accepting votes on Saturday, according to Jacquelyn Kovarik, a spokeswoman for Voces de la Frontera.
Voces stationed couple of its workers at the library who helped voters find the correct place to vote.
"There clearly was confusion in the community," she said.
— John Fauber
4:39 p.m.: Trump yard signs doused with gasoline in Racine, homeowner says
According to the Racine Journal Times, a Racine resident's yard signs supporting President Donald Trump were doused in gasoline early Tuesday morning.
Footage of the incident, captured on a doorbell camera, shows a man pouring what the Journal Times reported was gasoline on several Trump signs staked into the home’s front yard on Ohio Street.
The man also poured gasoline down the side of the house, knocked over a flag pole and broke a light in the yard, according to the Journal Times.
The man did not set the signs or house on fire, running away instead, homeowner Tom Marquis told the newspaper.
Marquis’s friend and neighbor, Marco Diaz, noticed the damage Tuesday morning and alerted Marquis. Diaz’s yard is full of signs supporting Joe Biden for president, and on Halloween, the two dressed up as their presidential picks to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
4:33 p.m.: Milwaukee musical duo Sista Strings brings joy to the polls in Bay View, part of national venture
Joy to the Polls, a group of non-partisan election observers, have positioned music groups across the nation near polling places to make voting more joyful.
In Milwaukee, the organization used local band Sista Strings to bring joy to voters at Fernwood Montessori School in Bay View.
The Joy to the Polls has deployed various nationally recognizable musicians, including rapper Busta Rhymes and singer Patti Smith, to polling locations in New York, Florida and elsewhere in the United States.
Joy to the Polls was also playing music for early voting, which spurred a viral dance party at a polling place in Philadelphia.
— Jordyn Noennig
4:30 p.m.: Adult site offers free memberships to Wisconsin voters
Giving new meaning to the term “swing state,” a national adult hook-up site is offering free Gold memberships to new subscribers who vote Tuesday in 13 key states, including Wisconsin.
AdultFriendFinder is offering its “Swinging in the Swing States” promotion to voters in hotly contested states. To redeem their free memberships, voters can submit photos of themselves with their “I Voted” sticker or a photo of themselves waiting in line at a polling location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The company says it already has more than 1 million Wisconsin subscribers.
“Swinging has always been a team activity,” FriendFinder Networks spokesman Gunner Taylor said in a news release. “And we’re hoping to inspire our community to tap into that team mentality to encourage high voter turnout for this year’s election, particularly in the crucial swing states.”
Wisconsin law prohibits giving people anything of value in exchange for them voting or not voting.
— Annysa Johnson
4:24 p.m.: Confusion at museum polling places in Kenosha
The Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum are less than 50 yards apart but they are also polling places, which has caused some confusion with voters in the city.
“It was the worst voting experience I ever had,” Bryant Banks said. Banks added he checked online to make sure he was registered to vote before going to the polls on Tuesday but when he arrived at the Civil War Museum he was told he wasn’t registered. He had to go to the public museum to register.
He registered and went back to the Civil War Museum to vote. There was some confusion as to which museum he was supposed to cast his vote but eventually it was settled.
“What’s the point of having people check online if they’re registered to vote if when they got here they can’t vote and have to re-register,” Banks said.
“It seems like it’s set up to have people not vote.” Banks said he saw multiple people walk back and forth between the two buildings. “It’s just chaotic,” Banks said. “It just seems not well put together. And I don’t know if that’s on purpose or not on purpose. It just needs to be done better. “
Jocelyn Aguirre’s normal polling place was moved to the Civil War Museum but she went into the public museum by mistake.
“It was a different location than what I’m used to which was a little confusing at first,“ Aguirre said. “I didn’t realize there are two separate museums. I just saw the word ‘museum’ and figured ‘OK this must be it.’”
However, some people were able to vote at one of the museums without a problem.
“It’s the first time I’ve been in the museum it looks great,” said John Pellamolla who voted at the Civil War Museum.
Earlier in the day many people were arriving at the Kenosha Municipal Building thinking it was a polling place.
“We do our best to redirect them to where they need to go,” said City Clerk Matt Kauter. The municipal building is being used to count absentee ballots.
Krauter said the city received nearly 30,000 early and absentee ballots before Election Day and anticipated the workers will count about 47,000 ballots in a city with roughly 53,000 registered voters.
— Ricardo Torres
4:18 p.m.: Two cast first votes for Trump
Both Elizabeth Rosado, 34, and Par Cung, 42, voted in their first presidential election Tuesday at the Lyons Park polling site.
They both cast their vote for Donald Trump.
Rosado said in Spanish she voted for Trump for religious reasons and because she is against abortion. Cung pointed to high taxes and said she trusted Trump to keep the country great.
“I like to work. I’m very hardworking,” said Cung, who is originally from Burma. “I work so much but I pay too much in taxes.”
Sara Flores, 30, voted for Joe Biden, who she hopes will unify the country and better address the pandemic.
“For me the biggest thing is the school system,” she said, adding it isn’t working for some students and parents during the pandemic.
A mother of four, Flores said she feels torn between her roles as a mom, a wife and a school employee.
Her kids are struggling, she said, especially her 6-year-old who has special needs. She worries that if he doesn’t get the supports he needs now, at a young age, he will suffer more down the line.
“They’re not getting what they need,” she said.
She’s stuck asking herself should she stay at her job or quit.
— Sarah Volpenhein
4:15 p.m.: People vote early at Rufus King High School
At the Rufus King High School polling site, Chief Elections Inspector Vicki Robinson, said people showed up as early as 6:30 a.m.
"It was social-distanced, no one was complaining, everyone was mellow," she said.
The site had seen 334 voters so far and six election observers. She said a lot of people have come with mail to show their address and they've also signed up a lot of new voters.
— Talis Shelbourne
4:11 p.m.: Hoan Bridge light show will match election results
On Election Night, let there be light.
Whether its blue or red will depend on the results.
Light the Hoan, a community-driven effort that resulted in LED light displays unveiled on the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee last month, is coordinating a light show to match the election results as they're called Tuesday night: blue for states that go Democrat, red for Republican — and some red, white and blue to represent the good ole' USA.
The lights will be going from dusk until 2 a.m., but folks who can't get out to the bridge tonight can watch a 15-minute light show live on the Light the Hoan Facebook page at 9 p.m.
— Piet Levy
4:06 p.m.: Delafield running smoothly
City of Delafield Clerk Steve Braatz said the day has been “oddly quiet.”
“We haven’t had major issues, complaints and things that usually arise with a presidential election,” Braatz said.
Though right when the polls opened this morning, Braatz said there were 200 people in line.
“They got them through in about 45 minutes.”
Braatz expected all ballots to be counted shortly after polls close.
— Evan Frank
4:06 p.m.: Waukesha keeps collecting ballots
As of 4 p.m., the Schuetze Center in Waukesha had collected close to 1,850 ballots, including absentees, or 87 percent of previously registered voters.
Though hardly what anyone would call a crowd, by 4:30 p.m. the Schuetze Center in Waukesha began seeing lines, at least for the city’s traditionally busy 5th ward. The lines still only stretched a half-dozen deep, moving people through the voting process in about five minutes.
At 5 p.m., Waukesha’s Schuetze Center began forming longer lines, resulting in 15-minute waits for some voters. The line outside the activity room door was partly the result of new voter registrants. Chief inspector John Kelling said the polling place topped the 90 percent mark of ballots cast among existing registered voters, with three hours left.
6:05 p.m: Why they're voting in person
For voters at the Schuetze Recreation Center in Waukesha, the decision to trek to the polls instead of voting absentee was a combination of doing what they’re familiar with or not trusting the advanced voting options.
Linda Schroeder felt more comfortable voting Tuesday “because I’m old and I don’t understand the absentee ballots,” she said, laughing. She declined to say who she ultimately voted for, adding only “the person I wanted.”
Marcia Arzamendi had too little confidence in the absentee option.
“I just want to make sure my vote is counted,” Arzamendi said, openly questioning the legitimacy of the push for absentee voting this year.
She voted Republican, including Donald Trump, who she said needs more time in office.
“I still think he has a lot of ideas that he hasn’t had time to finish,” she said. “So another four years will be good for him. That’s what I think.”
Javin Bradley also was unsure about the reliability of absentee votes and preferred to physically insert his ballot into the counting machine.
“I felt it was important to come out in person, just to do my duty,” Bradley said. “I was unsure if I did it the absentee way if it would get lost in the mail. I did it in person. I saw it go into the machine.”
— James Riccioli
4:01 p.m.: Greendale voters go, go, go
Voters may be waiting in long lines in neighboring West Allis and Greenfield, but that's not the case in Greendale.
As of mid-afternoon, there've been no lines to speak of, said Greendale Village Clerk Melanie Pietruszka, other than the lines forming before the polls opened.
"We are not seeing too many lines at all," she said. "I would say at the most it's been like five people in line."
About 64% of Greendale voters cast their ballots either via absentee or early voting, Pietruszka said.
She said she did receive one complaint from a voter about campaign signs being too close to the polling location at the Greendale Safety Center, but it was checked out and deemed legal.
"They're actually outside of that 100 feet from the entrance, so they are good," she said. "It's just that a voter wasn't comfortable with how close they were."\
— Bob Dohr
3:59 p.m.: Nuns visit poll sites in Milwaukee
Wearing bright yellow “Election Defender” sweaters and traveling in cars painted with the slogan, “Every Vote is Sacred,” more than 30 Catholic nuns are touring poll sites in Milwaukee and Detroit.
Their efforts are a part of a nonpartisan campaign to ensure that every polling location is safe and accessible for everyone.
“I think that because this year our country is more divided than ever, there is potential for anger, violence and intimidation,” said Sister Janet Weyker with Racine Dominican Sisters, in Racine.
As of mid-afternoon, however, it’s been peaceful in Milwaukee. The sisters met briefly with voters at Humboldt Park where they were welcomed by other Election Defender volunteers.
Many of the sisters are elderly, and coming from communities that have been following strict COVID-19 measures, they’ve been cut off from their social justice work.
“It’s been a challenging time for us,” said Mary Kay Dobrovolny, a Sister of Mercy from Detroit. “Sisters can’t show up in the world the way that we’re used to. This caravan has given us a way to tell voters we’re here for them.”
The organization Nuns & Nones organized the partnership between Election Defenders and the sisters and has accompanied them on the caravans.
“Sisters continue to teach me what it means to take action from a place of deep love,” says Nuns & Nones Co-director Brittany Koteles, who joined the caravan in Wisconsin. “I hope we can continue to inspire one another into more creative, courageous action.”
On Monday, Nuns & Nones and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice organized more than 500 sisters and allies to sign letters to Secretaries of States in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, stressing the importance of counting all votes and urging their efforts to create a fair election.
“Every single vote is sacred and must be cast and counted in this election,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “The Nuns on the Bus spoke with hundreds of people across this country who have felt unheard for too long. The votes of the unemployed, those worried about losing their healthcare, or people grieving the loss of a loved one from COVID19 must be counted.”
The sisters say they’re worried about the potential for post-election civil unrest.
“Obviously, half the population is going to be upset. There are going to be a lot of people who are hurting, I think, on both sides,” Weyker said.
— Rick Barrett
3:53 p.m.: People gather on Locust Street holding signs supporting Black Lives Matter
About 15 Cambridge Woods neighbors who live near Riverside High School, a polling site, gathered along Locust Street this afternoon as they have every weekday since early June.
They waved signs supporting Black Lives Matter, ending racism and “voting 4 equality,” as cars honked in support.
— Rory Linnane
3:46 p.m.: Smooth sailing in Elm Grove
The clerk for the Village of Elm Grove said poll workers will likely finish counting their absentee ballots at around 7 p.m. Tuesday night. “We’ll be done on time," village clerk Michelle Luedtke said. "I'll be pleased to get those results transferred to the county, hopefully right at 8:00.”
Luedtke said they'd received around 3,600 absentee ballots before Election Day, or %72 of the 5,029 registered voters in the village. Around 32 poll workers were working the polls on Tuesday. Five Wisconsin National Guard members were also working the polls, many counting absentee ballots.
Luedtke said the United States Postal Service was also dropping off absentee ballots one by one at village hall when they received them in the mail Tuesday, and would be doing so throughout the day. "We already had our major mail run, so everything else is just going to be a slow trickle," she said.
There were longer lines in the morning when polls opened up at 7 a.m., but no lines were seen at village hall at 1 p.m. Tuesday. All voters in Elm Grove vote at Village Hall. Half of the wards vote upstairs, while the other half votes downstairs. Luedtke says a poll worker is cleaning every voting machine after it's used. She's also been helping out with the cleaning. "I've cleaned so much my hands are starting to crack," she said.
— Evan Casey
3:43 p.m.: Testing and voting lines in Madison
In Madison, the line for the COVID-19 testing site at Alliant Energy Center was about 2.5 hours long at 3 pm, according to a sign near the entrance. By comparison, voters at the Steamfitters Local 601 on the far east side were waiting around 5 to 10 minutes in line to cast their votes at 3:30 pm. The Steamfitters location is serving the most wards in the city at 9.
— Laura Schulte
3:28p.m.: Spotting misprints in Appleton
At a table inside St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Appleton, two poll workers went through stacks of absentee ballots early Tuesday afternoon, recreating any affected by a misprint so they could be counted.
“Our job is to make sure every one of these is correct and to make sure that we get them all in the computer before the night is over,” said Louise Miller, a poll worker at the church.
The misprint on as many as 13,000 Outagamie County ballots is visible in a black square — known as a timing mark — near the edge of the form. The misprint is small, but still large enough that machines used to scan ballots can't accurately read them.
To make sure those votes are still counted, poll workers have to duplicate unreadable ballots by transferring votes to a new ballot that can be read by the machine. The process requires two workers and typically takes about four minutes per ballot, according to Outagamie County Clerk Lori O'Bright, who first announced the misprint in mid-October.
Outagamie County had hoped the Wisconsin Supreme Court would allow poll workers to simply fill in the imperfection, a quicker solution to the problem, but the court refused to take the case.
"Our message to the voting public is this: Your vote will be counted," O'Bright said in mid-October after the issue with the ballots was discovered.
At St. Matthew, Miller was confident the added task wouldn't be a problem for poll workers, including a National Guard member at the site helping process the ballots.
"If we stay calm, stay focused, we're going to get it done," she said.
— Mark Treinen
3:15 p.m.: A busy morning in Pewaukee
Barb Consigny, an election inspector for the city of Pewaukee, said they were “extremely busy this morning.” As of 3 p.m., 612 people voted today at city hall.
“I think (that number) is down quite a bit because in the past we didn’t have that many people encouraged to vote early,” Consigny said.
Consigny said the only issue they had was people who were sent absentee ballots in the mail and didn’t fill them out.
“I had to verify with the city clerk that they haven’t sent (the ballots) in,” Consigny said. “Then they gave me permission to allow them to vote here.”
— Evan Frank
3:15 p.m.: Mother of twins: This election 'means everything'
Zamaris Rodriguez brought her father, Pedro Rodriguez, to vote to Longfellow School after she herself voted at another location. She says this election “means everything.”
She thinks Trump hasn’t done enough to control the epidemic. Kids aren’t in school and people aren’t working, she said. She is a single mom and works 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. as a front desk clerk at a motel so that she can help her twins, 11, with remote learning.
“I want them to be somebody," she said.
She voted for Biden. She thinks that Trump should have done more. When he got sick, she said, a helicopter took him to the hospital.
“We don’t have any of those privileges,” she said. “We don’t have any of those resources.”
Rodriguez expects the president who gets elected to treat low-income residents the same way that the wealthy. She thinks Trump has been picking on Hispanics and doesn’t like how he refers to the coronavirus as the China virus. She thinks he is now also picking on Chinese people."
— Maria Jesus Perez Sanchez
3:10 p.m.: DJs from 'Amp the Vote' add to atmosphere at Milwaukee polls
The voting line at Marshall High School in mid-afternoon was sparse, but that didn’t stop the party vibe.
In the parking lot, DJ Andre Wallace was setting up his turntables.
Wallace was there as part of “Amp The Vote,” an initiative spearheaded by Milwaukee Action Intersection.
The MIA is a support group borne out of the social-justice protests over the summer.
“Many of us were like ‘We need to take care of each other,’“ said Vanessa Parker, a 35-year-old member of MIA. “We started out having meals together and out of that came ‘We can’t march every day.’ That’s not sustainable. Some of had jobs.”
So they kicked around ideas for events and decided on “Amp The Vote” after seeing how music helped voters in long lines during last April’s election.
“We wanted to make voting fun,” Parker said.
DJs were found using social media. Wallace stumbled on the gig on a DJ Facebook group.
“Amp The Vote” was also at the Center Street Library, Riverside High School and South Division High School polling locations.
“No matter what you’re walking to the poll with or any thoughts you have,” said Kelsey Boyle, a 28-year-old member of MIA. “As you walk by and hear just the party music and good tunes, those negative thoughts don’t stick around and you leave feeling a little lighter.”
Wallace was playing at Marshall from 2 to 5 p.m. He just wanted to keep the positive vibes going.
“Got some funk, R&B,” he said. “Like kick-back hip-hop.”
Wallace was plugged in and ready to go. He kicked things off with some Busta Rhymes, then Mary J. Blige and Mark Morrison’s eternal people-pleaser “Return of the Mack.”
— Ben Steele
2:50 p.m.: Watch 3 p.m. press conference from Central Count in Milwaukee
As the ballot counting continues, Milwaukee officials will host a 3 p.m. press conference from Central Count in Milwaukee. Watch the stream below.
Speaking of Central Count, want to know what it looks like inside the 70,000-square foot space, formerly insurance offices?
2:45 p.m.: Poll worker said her worries of voter intimidation proved unfounded
Carol Jones, the chief election inspector at the New Beginnings Are Possible site, said, “It has been really busy. So far, so good.”
She said that about 302 voters have come and gone and she has more than enough poll workers and six election observers for both parties.
Abbie Childs, a 22-year-old poll worker said she was initially concerned about voter intimidation, but has not had to report any incidents so far. “I was worried, especially with this being a Democratic stronghold and an urban environment, I thought we might run into some voter intimidation, but fortunately, that's not the case.”
Childs said the most common questions come with address verification documents, but other than that, things have been smooth, and at times, triumphant.
“I thought it was my civic duty, not only to vote but help others vote as well. And that came true today when I was able to help this elderly lady across the gym to vote. She was so determined because she had lost her absentee ballot and she really wanted to vote. (That was) definitely the highlight of my day,” she said, smiling.
Vanessa Carney, who voted at the New Beginnings Are Possible site, said she came out on Election Day because, “I wanted to make sure my ballot actually got in.”
Gregory Julien, 52, said he came out to vote because he doesn’t trust the mail in ballots, but he does trust the machines.
He said he voted for Biden because Biden was Obama’s vice President and, “If Obama trusts him, I’ll trust him."
He also said that he doesn’t like how Trump handled coronavirus. “With the pandemic, he didn’t warn the United States and because of that, it took a lot of people’s lives.”
— Talis Shelbourne
2:40 p.m.: Souls to the Polls caravans through Milwaukee, urging residents to vote
Volunteers with the get-out-the-vote initiative Souls to the Polls caravanned through Milwaukee’s north-side neighborhoods Tuesday urging residents to cast their ballots for president.
About two dozen people began assembling at Midtown Shopping Center this afternoon before heading west on West Capitol Drive toward the Westlawn and Northlawn housing projects. Though Souls to the Polls bills itself as nonpartisan, the turnout appeared to be largely, if not entirely, Biden supporters.
"People need to know that they need to vote. This is a critical, critical, critical election,” said Rev. Mose Fuller of St. Timothy Community Baptist Church in Milwaukee and first vice president of Souls to the Polls.
“A lot of people, including myself, we don’t like the way our country has been moving in the last four years. … The very future of our country is at stake."
Tim Cordon, a social justice coordinator with the First Unitarian Society of Madison, stood outside the lead bus, waving a rainbow flag in one hand and a large inflated balloon of the Earth in the other.
“The people are rising,” Cordon said. “They’re voting in record numbers to make sure we build a world that’s more just, more peaceful, more sustainable and run democratically, not by the rich, power-mongering, greedy corporate elite. …. It’s so exciting to be a part of this moment in history.”
— Annysa Johnson
2:20 p.m.: These communities already topped 2016 votes with absentee ballots, but polls were still packed Tuesday
Voters in the town of Hull and the Village Plover packed into their respective municipal halls even as both locales saw record-breaking absentee ballots cast.
The socially-distant voting line at the town of Hull, for instance, stretched out of the township’s municipal hall and well on to Wojcik Memorial Drive for the first two and a half hours, Hull Chief Inspector Heidi O’Brien said.
O’Brien called the volume of absentee ballots and the number of in-person voters stunning, saying she hasn’t seen anything like it in her 12 years working election day. She estimates voter turnout could hit 70% in the town. More than 2,000 people cast ballots absentee this year, far outpacing past presidential years that were about half that number, O’Brien said. Some 5,400 people live in Hull, according to the U.S. Census 2018 estimates.
In Plover, more than 6,500 people cast votes before Nov. 3, surpassing the 2016 vote total in a village of about 13,000, according to U.S. Census 2018 estimates. At noon, Village Clerk Karen Swanson said the village was processing about 135 voters an hour.
In Stevens Point, the nearly 8,000 people who voted early meant the city started Election Day with 33% voter turnout. Officials at many of the city’s 11 voting districts said about half of their registered voters cast ballots early.
— Alan Hovorka
2:15 p.m.: 'Hamilton' inspired one first-time voter to cast a ballot
At about 2 p.m., there were no lines at Longfellow School in Milwaukee, where chief inspector Paul Grippe said that 118 people had voted. Grippe said that he has seen about a dozen observers coming in and out, many more that at any other election. There’s been no scarcity of poll workers. They have seen a lot of new faces applying to be a poll worker.
Carlos Ginard, part of the group Election Protection on behalf of Workers United, was sitting outside with two other members. He said he has been to three poll locations today and hasn’t seen lines or major issues at any of them. Two representatives from Voces de la Frontera were also outside and reported no issues.
First-time voter Nicole Lopez, 19, said she watched Hamilton and ever since she has wanted to vote. She says that because of COVID-19, she requested an absentee ballot two to three weeks ago, but never received it, so she came in person today. Lopez says she voted for Biden and doesn’t like Trump: “It’s just a lot of hate that I don’t think should be spread”. She expects the new U.S. president will help immigrants.
— Maria Jesus Perez Sanchez
2:09 p.m.: One voter outlines reasons he's voting for Jo Jorgensen
Eddie Lemke, 33, was disappointed by President Donald Trump’s record on gun rights and the war in Iraq.
He voted Tuesday afternoon for Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate for president, at Doerfler Elementary School in Milwaukee, where the line was short.
The major issues driving him to vote this election were gun rights, anti-authoritarianism and taxes, he said.
In 2016, he also voted for third-party candidate Gary Johnson, a Libertarian. He doesn’t trust either major party candidate to address the issues he cares about.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of the same stuff either way,” he said of the major parties.
Lemke disapproved of Trump’s calling for red flag laws, in the aftermath of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio last year. He said there has been more war under Trump and disliked that he hadn’t withdrawn more troops from Iraq.
Lemke said most people want the election to be over with and said the animosity during the campaign has been unhealthy.
“You’re not voting for something, you’re voting against something,” he said of the candidates’ messages.
Adalberto Cruz, 53, left the polling place at Doerfler shortly after Lemke.
Cruz voted for Democrat Joe Biden and wanted Trump out of office.
“The president’s a clown,” he said. “He doesn’t respect people.”
Originally from Puerto Rico, Cruz criticized Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the U.S. territory in 2017.
He also said the island is taking the coronavirus much more seriously than the mainland.
He disagreed with Trump’s handling of the virus.
“People are dying and he wants to open a lot of things,” he said.
— Sarah Volpenhein
2:00 p.m.: Updates from Waukesha County
- Mark Fish said he voted for Donald Trump because of Trump’s support of law enforcement and the Veterans Administration (VA). Fish said his wife works for the VA and said he didn’t believe in defunding the police.
This year is the second election that Fish has voted Republican. He had voted for Democratic Party candidates in previous elections before 2016, which is when he first voted for Trump.
“I felt that the Democratic Party ran a dirty campaign, a very dirty campaign,” Fish said about his decision in 2016 to vote Republican.
Fish said the one thing he wishes Trump would do differently is stay off social media and “quit poking the bear.”
“All he’s doing is poking the media and making you guys think he’s doing something that he’s truly not,” Fish said.
Kelsey Kottwitz said she voted for Joe Biden because she doesn’t care for Trump as a person.
“I can’t really support him because of my morals and what I believe in. I’m a teacher as well, so that also affects who I vote for,” Kottwitz said.
As a teacher, Kottwitz said that she thought Biden is supportive of teachers and wants to protect them. She said it’s scary for many teachers like her during the COVID-19 pandemic and said she’s lucky to work at a school that’s small enough where social distancing can take place. Kottwitz’ school operates in a hybrid model of learning.
“That’s why I feel comfortable going in and working on the days that I have to, but many teachers don’t feel that way because their classes are much bigger. I think their feelings are warranted,” Kottwitz said.
Inside Schuetze Recreation Center in the city of Waukesha, more than 1,700 voters among the polling site’s 2,100 registered voters had already cast ballots as of 2 p.m., according to poll inspector John Kelling. That, of course, included the roughly 1,000 that voted absentee before Election Day began. “It’s been great,” Kelling said, noting it was busy in the early morning, with brief lines and no problems. “Not as busy as we would have expected, but that was because of all of the absentees.”
In New Berlin between 10:30 a.m. and 12:10 p.m, the lines at the New Berlin Public Library were short, with voters reporting waits of less than five minutes. Lisa Abbott and her daughter Kaitlyn went together to vote. This year was Kaitlyn’s first time voting, according to Lisa. Lisa said she voted in-person because she never received her absentee ballot in the mail when she tried to vote absentee in the spring. Both Lisa and Kaitlyn said they voted for Donald Trump, and Lisa said she thought Trump would help rebuild the economy. “I don’t trust (Joe) Biden. I think he’s a puppet. I think he’s going to be out in a few months and Kamala’s (Kamala Harris) is going to be president if that’s the way it goes,” Lisa Abbott said.
— Jim Riccioli and Alec Johnson
1:53 p.m.: Germantown officials remind voters to 'keep one cow apart' in line
The Village of Germantown officials made multiple signs with the words, "Maintain Social Distancing" and, in a move that is wholly Wisconsin, "Keep One Cow Apart" as a reminder to voters while they waited to cast their ballots.
— Cathy Kozlowicz
1:34 p.m.: First-time voters aplenty
At the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School in the Harambee neighborhood, the highlight of the morning for chief inspector Bela Roongta was the surprising number of people registering to vote for the first time.
Roongta couldn’t say exactly how many new registrants the polling site hosted after six and a half hours on Tuesday. But she said she was considering adding another table at the site to help speed the process along.
“That’s been really gratifying,” she said. "That’s been the longest line. It’s fun to see people register.”
She echoed what officials at other sites had reported early Tuesday: They had a decently busy morning when the polls opened and have enjoyed a quiet, steady stream of voters since then. Staffing has been “great” and there hadn’t been any delays.
As of 1:30 p.m., about 170 people voted at the school, officials said.
“It was a great experience seeing everyone work together and voting,” said Marquis Shipp, 28, after casting his ballot.
Over at Marshall High School, John and Alexis Cash were first-time voters and the process couldn’t have gone smoother for the couple.
There were no lines in the early afternoon, and the registration and voting process took just over 30 minutes for the two 23-year-olds
“It went good,” John said. “We had to type in our new address and stuff. People were very welcoming and helped you out.”
They had not planned on voting, but were swayed after talking with friends. John had the day off from work, making it easier to get to the polls as a family.
“I feel like every vote matters,” Alexis said. “And it’s important to come out and vote.”
There was also an immediate benefit. While John and Alexis answered questions, the couple’s young son giggled incessantly and played with John’s “I Voted” sticker.
— Elliot Hughes and Ben Steele
1:27 p.m.: Few reports of problems at the polls in Wisconsin
Election Day is proceeding smoothly with few reports of excessive lines or voter intimidation, Wisconsin’s chief election official Meagan Wolfe said at a midday press briefing Tuesday.
Wolfe said lines appear to be shorter overall than in past elections, likely due to the large number of people who already voted via absentee ballots. Nor have any polling sites reported a shortage of poll workers, she said.
Elections officials have not heard any specific threats against polling sites or large-scale disinformation campaigns, the Wisconsin Elections Commission said. The Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office all reported no issues.
About 200 National Guard service members have been deployed as poll workers and are wearing civilian clothes, Wolfe said.
“None of them are in uniform and none are serving in any law enforcement or crowd control capacity,” she said.
The ACLU of Wisconsin and other nonprofits watching for voter issues also reported few hiccups.
Common Ground executive director Jennifer O’Hear said the nonprofit talked to one voter who lost her absentee ballot but was told she could not vote in-person unless she produced the ballot. O’Hear said the group managed to get a lawyer on the phone with the poll worker to allow the woman to vote.
“Fortunately we caught that early this morning, because it could have happened to a number of people,” O’Hear said.
Overall, O’Hear said she was impressed by the persistence of voters this year.
“We’ve seen a number of voters who’ve come and had to go back home and get documentation and they’ve done it,” O’Hear said. “I’m really impressed with people’s persistence.”
— Daphne Chen, Cary Spivak
1:20 p.m.: These statues in Greenfield are dressed for the occasion
The two lion statues outside of The Starr Group in Greenfield are dressed up in donkey and elephant costumes for Election Day.
"Any event that we feel is important, we try to dress them up," said Mary Starr, who co-owns the insurance agency at 5005 W. Loomis Road with her husband, Tim Starr.
The lions have been decorated for just about any and every occasion since the early ‘80s. The agency’s longtime client, Darlene Mattmiller, has made all of the lions' costumes and dressed them up, with help from her son, Dave Mattmiller.
Read the full story from Hannah Kirby.
1:15 p.m.: One voter said early-morning long lines in South Milwaukee not too much hassle
South Milwaukee resident Robyn Polak found herself in a long line a little before 8 a.m. at Divine Mercy Parish, 800 Marquette Ave., Nov. 3. She was voter 121 on election day.
“The lines actually moved fast, only three main votes on the ballot, others were for local positions,” Polak said. “I was in and out within 25 minutes. I think the wait was worth it, met some great people, too.”
— Erik Hanley
1:10 p.m.: One inspector relieved to see 'nightmares' of Election Day unfounded
At the Green Tree Preparatory School poll, chief inspector Terre Welbes, 72, didn’t know what to expect on Election Day.
“I was dreaming it. I had nightmares,” she said.
But when the day came, Welbes had no conflicts or instances of voter intimidation. She was glad to see the election coming to an end.
“I’ll sleep really well tonight,” said the retired teacher.
— Mark Johnson
1:08 p.m.: Voter said she wanted to make sure her vote 'wasn't lost'
Ruthie Sparks, a 57-year-old Milwaukee resident, said she chose to come to the polls on Election Day because she wanted to make sure her “vote wasn’t lost.”
“I wanted to see how many people would come,” she said, adding that most were still at work. When asked who she voted for, she said, “It wasn’t Trump. I don’t like Trump; he ain’t right. He’s the reason all this mess is going on.”
If Trump wins, Sparks said she thinks things will “be even worse than (they are) now.” More people, she said, need to come out here and vote.
Joy Hudson, the chief elections Inspector for the Thurston Woods Elementary School voting location says that everything has gone well so far.
"Nobody has wanted us to answer any questions," she said. "They just went to get in and vote."
Roughly 190 people have come through the doors and Hudson said even though there has been a morning rush and a steady trickle of voters since then, she thinks a lot of people voted early.
Brandi Byas, a 25-year-old voter at the Thurston Woods location, said she voted in 2016 for Hillary Clinton.
She said she was a little bit worried about mail-in voting, which is why she came in person for this election.
"I don't know about that mail; I had a package addressed to me that got delivered to the wrong house, I don't trust them," she said laughing.
She also said that she voted for Biden, adding that it would take a paragraph to explain why she's not voting for Trump. "I don't believe in his views," she said. "Let's leave it at that."
— Talis Shelbourne
1:04 p.m.: ACLU doesn't believe long lines are indication of polling-place problems
When longer lines have been seen at Wisconsin polling places Tuesday, it's been the result of significant voter turnout and social distancing measures — not because there are problems with election administration, said Molly Collins, advocacy director for the ACLU of Wisconsin.
"Things seem to be running pretty smoothly," Collins said mid-day Tuesday.
The ACLU of Wisconsin has election observers throughout the state and is responding to Wisconsin calls made to the national nonpartisan Election Protection hotline 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).
ACLU election observers also have noted an increased police presence at polling locations in some cities around the state, but not in Milwaukee.
"I'm concerned about police presence in polling places and potentially disenfranchising folks who may be uncomfortable around police," Collins said.
— Ashley Luthern
12:56 p.m.: Craig Gilbert breaks down the Wisconsin race
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Craig Gilbert, the Washington bureau chief, breaks down what he's looking for as results begin to pour in from Wisconsin's election.
12:41 p.m.: Green Bay police chief allays concerns over online ballot-counting rumor
In Green Bay, city officials reported a minor delay in voting at one site because a ballot machine was slow to start, one incident of someone illegally electioneering and concerns about an online rumor related to the city’s ballot counting.
One machine at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay poll location was not ready on time at 7 a.m., Mayor Eric Genrich said during a midday press conference.
“But there was no malfunctioning or any problems with the equipment. It was just kind of a matter of the machine being a little slow to wake up,” Genrich said.
Green Bay Chief of Police Andrew Smith warned against misinformation circulating online that ballot counting was suddenly and mysteriously moved from City Hall to the KI Convention Center. Smith clarified that it was planned several weeks ago. The “Central Count” location in Green Bay is among 39 set up statewide.
Smith noted election observers from both parties are at Green Bay’s Central Count site, and he said there was a minor incident of someone campaigning too close to a polling site in the city.
“One of our officers went by there, asked them to move 100 feet away and they cooperated and that was the end of that,” he said.
The chief said there were some pre-scheduled rallies and some people are going around the city in caravans trying to get out the vote.
“I don’t consider any of that protests; I consider them rallies and that’s fine,” Smith said. “We welcome people to do things of that nature of course.”
Smith said the police are monitoring what’s going on across the country, social media, and in Green Bay in regard to protests Tuesday night. Police usually find out protests in advance and help coordinate and facilitate those events, he said.
— Nusaiba Mizan
12:35 p.m.: Roughly 200 voters at Milwaukee Safety Academy before noon
Belinda Bradley, chief elections inspector for the Milwaukee Safety Academy, said the location was crowded when doors first opened. “The lines were long, they were outside the door and into the parking lot.”
Things eased up at 10, she said, and gave a rough estimate of about 200 voters that had come through.
She said there were quite a few new voters and voter registrations and most people were asking if they were in the right ward. The location serves as the polling place for both wards 18 and 19.
There weren’t enough poll workers in the beginning, Bradley said, but the commission quickly sent more. Observers, on the other hand, have dwindled from five in the beginning down to two.
Bradley said even though she knows things are slow right now, she’s expecting an after-work surge.
“I know we’re going to get that rush at around 1, 3 and 5 (o’clock), because that’s when people start getting off work,” she said.
— Talis Shelbourne
12:00 p.m.: Yes, Wisconsin does in fact have same-day registration
A tweet this morning from the ACLU that's been retweeted more than 30,000 times lists the states in which voters can register at the polls on Election Day.
But they left off Wisconsin, among a litany of other errors.
To be clear: Voters who aren’t registered can do that at the polls today and vote immediately in Wisconsin. Just don’t forget your photo ID and proof of residence.
Other states left off the ACLU list that do allow same-day registration are Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Rhode Island and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and Ballotpedia. Rhode Island voters registering on Election Day can only vote in the presidential race.
Update: The ACLU corrected the error and acknowledged earlier omissions, though the initial tweet had been re-tweeted 30,000 times by then.
— Eric Litke
11:53 p.m.: No lines at all in Brookfield
No lines, inside or outside, were seen at Brookfield East or Brookfield Central High Schools at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Many voters at both locations said it took them less than five minutes to vote.
Emily, a 37-year-old Brookfield resident, said she voted for President Donald Trump Tuesday. She said she voted in-person because “this is the day we vote.”
She said she’s voting “to support freedom.”
“I believe Trump wants to keep our country free, and Biden wants to shut our country down,” she said.
“It has less to do with the person and more to do with the policies. I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite person in the world,” she added.
Jacob Rosenthal also said he also voted for Trump in 2016. He did the same this year.
“I had a really big problem with Biden’s pro-choice issue,” he said.
He didn’t vote before election day because he’s worried about possible fraud.
“I just had a really big problem with the whole mail-in ballot thing,” he said.
Alexia Miles, a poll worker at Brookfield East High School said the “vast majority” of voters were wearing masks.
This is her first time working the polls.
“One thing with the coronavirus, a lot of poll workers are elderly, and there might be a shortage, so I wanted to do what I could to help,” she said.
— Evan Casey
11:30 a.m.: Glendale swiftly recovers after election official contracts COVID
Glendale’s city clerk was diagnosed with the coronavirus last week, said Mayor Bryan Kennedy in an email, but the deputy clerk and other workers are still handling the election.
“We had two workers that worked closely with her stay home in quarantine,” Kennedy said in an email. “They wore a mask any time they were out of their offices in city hall. Those two tested negative two times over the course of five days. They are back at work and assisting with the election from their offices at city hall.”
Kennedy said the deputy clerk is handling the election with help from the city administrator. The deputy clerk has called the city clerk for advice throughout the day, he said.
“We have chief election inspectors at our three locations and poll workers dealing directly with the public,” said Kennedy.
He said just over 75% of registered voters have voted early.
— Eddie Morales
11:21 a,m,: Turnout slower than usual at Gordon Park, but plenty of food
Turnout has been slower than usual today for a presidential election at the Gordon Park polling site, potentially due to early voting, said election official Yves Lapierre, who has been working elections for 16 years.
But there has been more free food than other years, he said.
James Sauer of Company Brewing had a table stacked high with ham and turkey sandwiches to give away as part of World Central Kitchen’s #chefstothepolls initiative.
There were also plenty of poll workers on hand, with 35 people signed up to help throughout the day, Lapierre said.
Additionally, a Republican from Wisconsin and two Democrats from Wisconsin and Illinois were signed in as observers. Lapierre said he has had out-of-state observers before and the number wasn’t unusual.
— Rory Linnane
11:16 a.m.: West Allis has some of the area's longest lines
In West Allis, lines snaked around the outside of City Hall; at Central High School, they stretched far down the street. In both places, the wait times at mid-morning were averaging around an hour, according to voters and election officials.
Both polling places were serving voters from six wards, the most of the city's five locations.
"So far, so good. It's been pretty smooth," said West Allis Election Services Specialist Gina Gresch.
Gresch said the early part of her day was spent fielding questions about hospitalized voters.
"COVID voters, because they're quarantined, we have to treat them as hospitalized voters, and there's an extra process to that," she said.
Other questions have dealt with where people can go to vote and what they need to vote, she said.
In terms of turnout, Gresch said absentee ballots alone accounted for nearly 54% of registered voters.
— Bob Dohr
11:00 a.m.: World Central Kitchen handing out food in Riverwest
Nobody was stuck in line to vote at the Fratney School in Riverwest late Tuesday morning, but volunteers with World Central Kitchen were there to hand out food anyway.
The World Central Kitchen is an organization created in 2010 primarily to distribute food to those impacted by natural disasters all over the globe.
The food stand was manned by Liz Hagedorn, the general manager for Club Charlie’s, which provided the parfaits and chicken salad sandwiches.
She said she and her crew were bouncing from polling site to polling site Tuesday “just to feed people while waiting to vote, do something good. It’s nonpartisan.”
Water and transportation were provided by J.L. Bloom’s Landscapes.
— Elliot Hughes
10:57 a.m.: First-time voter cites pandemic as driving factor in her choice
At 10:30 a.m., 18-year-old Adriana Merkel cast her very first vote at the Milwaukee Sign Language School. The pandemic was a major factor.
“Biden is more concerned. He’s wearing the mask. Trump thinks it’s a joke. Biden takes it seriously. I feel like everybody should vote, especially this election with Trump in office. We’ve got to get him out.”
She walked out of the poll with Jason Swiderski, a 40-year-old electrical worker.
“I voted for Biden because he doesn’t lie and I think he’ll have a better control of the virus," Swiderski said.
— Mark Johnson
10:50 a.m.: Musicians bringing their craft to polling places
Carrie and Brian Kulas stood outside of the polling place at Lincoln Park for District 8 in Manitowoc, playing the violin and the string bass, respectively, for two hours Tuesday morning. The pair usually plays for the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra, but today they were playing for Play for the Vote, a national, nonpartisan organization that arranged for musical performances at polling places throughout the country.
“It’s a pretty anxious time and you get tired of sitting around on your hands waiting for someone else to make something happen,” Brian Kulas said. “Music is all about togetherness. It’s really a universal language. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, everybody loves music.”
— Alisa Schafer
10:48 a.m.: Disappointment with both candidates not deterring voters
Plenty of voters said they were happy to cast ballots in the presidential election in person Tuesday, despite a number of them saying they felt disappointed by both candidates.
At polling locations in Riverwest, Borchert Field and Roosevelt Grove, voters said neither party nominated a candidate that energized them.
“They could’ve done better,” said Nicky Barber, 22.
“I don’t think there’s that big of a difference” between the two candidates, added Tashawna Thompson, 31.
Still, voters said they felt it was their duty to cast ballots. They said their chief concerns this year were the coronavirus pandemic, crime, poverty and access to health care.
A half-dozen dozen voters, after casting their ballots, said they voted for Democrat Joe Biden. And even those who declined to say who earned their vote weren’t afraid to openly criticize President Donald Trump.
“Trump made a lot of promises that he didn’t back up,” said Harry Smith, 52.
— Elliot Hughes
10:29 a.m.: No line at UWM but maybe 'students aren't awake yet'
There was no line at 10 a.m. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union, where election official Kelly Conatry said the slow start may be due to many early voters and because “the students aren’t awake yet.”
Ninety-eight people had voted. There were 20 poll workers, which Conatry said is “plenty of people for when it picks up.”
Four people had signed in as observers, most from Wisconsin but one from Illinois. Conatry said the number is not more than usual for a presidential election, but she doesn’t recall having an out-of-state observer in the four years she has worked elections.
— Rory Linnane
10:17 a.m.: Setting the scene in Madison
At the Nicholas Recreation Center in Madison, lines were only five or six people long at 10 a.m. Workers wore masks and in some cases, also face shields.
Voters said it took about 15 minutes to register and vote, and about 10 to vote if preregistered.
There were six workers outside the building, wearing bright yellow jackets, and at least another 20 inside. Many were University of Wisconsin-Madison students.
At the registration desks, sheets were present with explanations of how UW-issued student voter IDs were to be deemed valid.
Poll watchers didn’t appear to be present.
— Nuha Dolby
10:16 a.m.: Voters chat after casting their ballots at Clara Barton School
At Clara Barton School in Milwaukee at 10 a.m., 31-year-old Larry Hooker of Milwaukee said the most important issue this election was “equality, treating people the same and working together.” He voted for Biden.
“We all live in the same country. We just need to work together to make it.”
Marilyn Radke, an 85-year-old retiree, said the country needs someone who shakes things up.
“I voted for Trump, but when he ran the first time I didn’t know too much about him. I voted for him again because now I know that when he says something he pretty much does it.”
— Mark Johnson
10:14 a.m.: Setting the scene in Appleton
In Grand Chute near Appleton, Chief Inspector Michelle Wrobleski shrugged when she was asked what she’ll remember most about this Election Day, whether it’s the masks or social distancing or the polarized climate.
“By the time I get to tonight, today will be a blur. It already is,” she said, chuckling. “I think I’ll remember the people — it’s a lot of people. But anyway, I’m not sure I’ll remember anything by tomorrow morning after the craziness.”
Grand Chute voter Cameron Vander Heiden declined to say which candidate he supported in the presidential election but noted the atmosphere is different from that of 2016.
“Not only is voting itself a little different, but it’s just a way tenser climate than it was then,” he said. “I’m just anxious — anxious for the results and to see where we go from here.”
Clad in a black cowboy hat, black jeans and a black leather jacket with a large American flag printed across the back, Ron Van Camp said he planned to vote for Trump, just as he did in 2016. He said his top priorities are ending the “never-ending” wars and bloodshed in the Middle East and law and order.
A truck driver, Van Camp was making a delivery in Minnesota when thousands protested George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. After the interstate was closed, Van Camp said he had to drive on the back roads just to finish his job.
“I’ve seen the mess in cities across the country,” he said, noting in 1992, his truck’s window was shot at during the Los Angeles riots.
“This election is more important — the most important since Ronald Reagan,” Van Camp said. “I just want to see the country pick right."
— Samantha West
10 a.m.: Live news conference from Central Count
Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are speaking now outside the Central Count office.
9:56 a.m.: Here's how to report harrassment or voting problems to officials
An array of social media posts are directing voters in Wisconsin and across the country to call “voter protection hotlines” if they witness voter intimidation or harassment at the polls.
The phone numbers listed, however, do not go to election officials — they go to voter assistance hotlines set up by the Democratic Party. This is not the recommended action for reporting voting issues, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Spokesman Reid Magney said voters have three ways to report problems at their polling place.
- Ask to speak to the chief election inspector, the local official who is in charge at that site. Most issues can be resolved this way, Magney said.
- If that option doesn’t work, contact the local municipal clerk. You can look up your municipal clerk on the MyVote website.
- If that doesn’t work, contact the Elections Commission at 1-866-VOTE-WIS.
General feedback and formal complaints can also be filed with the commission through its website, though this resource isn’t an alternative to options above for time-sensitive issues.
— Eric Litke
9:51 a.m.: Souls to the Polls offering free rides to polling places
Volunteers with the nonpartisan Souls to the Polls hit the ground early Tuesday, the final day in a monthslong push to increase voter turnout, especially in Milwaukee’s central city.
In addition to volunteering at polling places, Souls to the Polls is offering free Lyft and Uber rides to voters who need them and assisting voters with disabilities with curbside voting. It's also organizing a get-out-the-vote caravan parade that will take its message through city neighborhoods, leaving from the Midtown shopping center, starting at noon.
Voters who want to book a ride or who have concerns can call the group at (414) 246-1823.
— Annysa Johnson
9:47 a.m.: Updates around Milwaukee suburbs (Franklin, Menomonee Falls, Germantown)
- Voters filed into the Polish Center of Wisconsin in Franklin to cast their ballot, and election workers said they noticed a significant increase in activity compared to previous elections. One poll worker called the morning “crazy.”
- It is very smooth in the northwest suburbs. At Davians in Menomonee Falls, the line was about 30 minutes at 7:15 a.m. Every voter had a a mask. At 8:41, there us no outside line. At 8:20 a.m. about a 20 minute wait.
- In Germantown this morning, lines moved quickly. People were able to vote quickly.
— Ricardo Torres and Cathy Kozlowicz
9:42 a.m.: More poll workers than voters at Maryland Montessori in Milwaukee
There was hardly a line at Maryland Montessori at 9:20 a.m., with more poll workers than voters.
Election official Richard Li said he has more than enough workers — 27. He had only 12 workers for the primary election, when the city shut down most other polling sites.
With so many people early voting, he said turnout today is light, with 158 voters so far.
There were three observers— two from Milwaukee with the Democratic Party and one from Illinois with the Republican Party, Li said. Two Republicans from Tennessee signed in as observers briefly. Li said the number of observers is not unusual.
— Rory Linnane
9:38 a.m.: Two voters with different views on the candidates
Two voters at the MPS Administration building were looking at the election as a referendum on President Trump.
Milwaukee electrician Jeffrey Acuff, 61, said he voted for Trump.
“I voted for him last time and he’s done his job. I don’t think he’s going to do it worse. He’ll do better.”
Robert Hirschi said he chose to vote for Biden today because, “all of the Trumpsters are going to vote today. I voted to get rid of him, although I do like Biden and Harris. We need morality back in the White House.”
Both voted before 8 in the morning.
— Mark Johnson
9:33 a.m.: Central Count busy tabulating absentee ballots
More than 400 workers spread out at tables across a single floor of a large downtown Milwaukee office building began tabulating more than 165,000 ballots shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The operation, dubbed Central Count, quickly got underway once workers, observers, and news media signed in.
The vast space at 501 W. Michigan St. allows for social-distancing among the many elections workers paired at tables to go over the ballots. About 45 observers, 15 affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties, and 15 not affiliated with a party, watched intently as the workers began the hours-long task.
First workers checked envelopes, which had been pre-sorted into wards — one of the few things state law allowed before election day — for voters' and witnesses' signatures and a witness address.
Once a batch of envelopes passed muster, workers got in lines to have stacks of the envelopes opened quickly by machine. Back at the tables, ballots were then matched against voter lists before those stacks were taken for tabulation by more machines, some acquired with grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life.
Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, made announcements over a loud public address system, reminding workers about how to handle various issues, and to observe to follow spacing protocols. All the workers are at number tables so their exact locations could be tracked in case any contact tracing is needed to be done.
Woodall-Vogg and Mayor Tom Barrett are scheduled to hold a press conference outside Central County at 10 a.m.
— Bruce Vielmetti
9:13 a.m.: Sheboygan voter: 'I'm going to make sure my ballot gets in the hole ... I don't want it flying around in our world.'
Sharon Anhalt, a 72-year-old retired registered nurse in Sheboygan, had planned to vote by mail because of a health problem that made it painful to walk. But ultimately, she didn't want to risk problems with the mail, she said while waiting in line outside the Mead Public Library early Tuesday.
"I'm going to make sure my ballot gets in the hole," she said. "That's the best I can do. I don't want it flying around in our world."
Other voters shared similar sentiments while in line at the library Tuesday.
Key issues mentioned by voters included health care, the pandemic, civil rights and honesty.
One woman felt President Donald Trump had accomplished more than any recent president and worried that a Joe Biden presidency would pose a threat to her freedoms.
Behind her, a recent high school graduate who works as a cook in Kohler said she, too, was concerned about losing freedoms as a gay person who wants to be married someday. She planned to vote for Biden.
Another voter, braving the early morning chill in shorts, resented that the election has been presented as a choice between major-party candidates. He didn't like either, he said, and would vote for a third party.
Some chose their words carefully when asked about their key issues, especially when others were in earshot. But a common theme was frustration with the bitterness and division that has characterized the election.
Said Anhalt: "There's so much squabbling and they don't even look like adults at times on TV. They yell at each other."
"Like two kids on a playground," said a man in line ahead of her, nodding.
"This is my country. I wasn't brought up to think that our president or people running for president or other offices should act like asses."
— Matt Piper
9:09 a.m.: Election-themed cookies available at Milwaukee-area bakeries
National Bakery & Deli is getting in on election day with Biden, Trump, donkey and elephant cookies at all three of its locations, in Milwaukee, Brookfield, and Greendale.
Shortly before 9 a.m., the Greendale location already ran out of elephant cookies, but an employee said they should be getting more in. An employee at the Brookfield location said the cookies are going fast. They sold out of donkeys and had only a couple of elephants left. An employee at the Milwaukee location said they still have all four kinds available.
— Hannah Kirby
9:07 a.m.: Greenfield experiencing wait times of 25-45 minutes
In Greenfield, a line wrapped around all four sides of the Greenfield Community Center where residents queued up to cast their ballots Tuesday morning.
Nearly all were wearing masks.
Wait times ranged from 25 to 45 minutes, according to several voters.
Jennifer Barrett of Greenfield was one of them.
She said she didn't vote in 2016 but felt it was important to vote this year.
"It's my first time being back in Wisconsin. I was in Illinois, and I didn't vote in Illinois because it's always a blue state and Wisconsin being a swing state this year, I felt it was important to do it," she said.
Barrett, who voted for Trump, said the unrest in Kenosha influenced her decision.
"What really got to me was Kenosha and the civil unrest and all of the stuff that's been going on," she said.
Brandon Angle, 30, of Greenfield, also said he cast his vote for the Trump-Pence administration.
"Really a lot of what influenced my decision is he promises to lower more taxes and provide more relief," Angle said. "I have seen plenty of response from other countries in our handling the coronavirus, but it seems like he really is getting his act together as providing a vaccination as soon as possible."
Angle said he voted in person because of the principle.
"At the last election, I voted in person, and the last election before that I voted in person," he said. "I believe while there is indeed a danger with the coronavirus, I also believe that with the proper safeguards, I could feel comfortable in coming here and voting in person and not worry about getting sick."
— Bob Dohr
8:58 a.m.: Lines long at Neenah's lone polling location
Lines were long at the start of voting at the former Neenah Shopko store, which is serving as the city’s sole polling place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The large number of voters surprised Deputy City Attorney Adam Westbrook, given that 10,000 absentee ballots had been cast by Neenah voters ahead of Election Day.
“We were figuring that today would be steady,” Westbook told The Post-Crescent, “but it seems like everyone wanted to get in right away this morning to make sure that their vote got counted, which is great. The lines seem to be moving relatively quickly. We have had no issues so far.”
Eleanor DeShaney of Neenah waited in line for 15 minutes before voting. She was thrilled with the large voter turnout.
“I could do a happy dance,” she said. “Our voices will be heard.”
DeShaney voted for Biden. “I know that he has the skills and that (former President Barack) Obama will help him if he needs any help,” she said. “Our country has been torn down so badly.”
Matt Larsen of Neenah also voted for Biden. Racial inequality in the country was a deciding factor for him. “I want to see change,” he said.
Joanna Chase of Neenah voted to re-elect Trump.
“Law and order,” she gave as the reason. “I depend on the police to be there if I call them.”
Neenah is offering curbside voting at the Shopko store, and police are enforcing the ban on electioneering within 100 feet of the entrance. Concrete barricades have been placed in front of the doors to prevent damage from any out-of-control vehicle.
“It’s not so much for an attack,” Westbrook said. “It’s just a safety thing.”
— Duke Behnke
8:50 a.m.: DJs entertain voters around Milwaukee
DJs with the Amp the Vote, an initiative of the Milwaukee Action Intersection, are entertaining voters outside four polling places today.
They hope to “bring some celebration and joy to what’s been a tumultuous election season,” said Haji Camara, who was helping with setup outside Riverside High School.
With many people feeling anxious today, Camara said he hopes the music can be a bright spot for voters.
“I hope we can at least inspire one person to have a positive voting experience,” he said.
— Rory Linnane
8:38 a.m.: Maskless voters given ballots outside in Milwaukee
At the MPS Administration building, the turnout was brisk, orderly and, with a few exceptions, mask-wearing.
“We’ve had a couple of maskless voters; we just take ballots out to them and they vote outside,” said Chris Wszalek, chief inspector at the poll.
Wszalek, who is working his fourth presidential election, said the number of election observers was different this time, four as opposed to one (at the most) in other years. Outside the poll, though, there were no protest signs, chanting supporters or arguments. It was a calm first 45 minutes. About 70 votes had been cast.
— Mark Johnson
8:25 a.m.: The weather today is going to be awesome
The weather on Tuesday will do nothing to hinder voter turnout anywhere in Wisconsin.
After a chilly start, abundant sunshine and temperatures ranging from the high 50s north to the low to mid-60s south and west will accompany voters to the polls in Wisconsin.
"It's actually going to be a really nice day," across the state, said Taylor Patterson, a National Weather Service meteorologist at the office in Sullivan.
Milwaukee's high temperature is forecast to hit 63 degrees under sunny skies, Patterson said.
Read the full story from Joe Taschler.
8:20 a.m.: Protester criticizes Packers for allowing voting on Lambeau property
Outside Johnsonville Tailgate Village near Green Bay, a man holding a “Support police not rapists” sign has been standing since 7:30 a.m. calling the Packers corrupted and “bullies” for interfering with politics by opening a polling place on the Lambeau Field property.
Two wards are in line at the Village, but the line is streaming in at a quick pace.
Green Bay resident Rebekah Yahmke said she isn’t surprised by the turnout but shocked everyone is cheerful during this contentious election.
“I’m happy to see how many people are happy and in good spirits. Joking around and being kind to one another, that’s good to see.”
Many stadiums around the country are being turned into polling places Tuesday. Polling places are still overseen by municipalities.
— Benita Mathew
8:17 a.m.: Higher-than-typical volume of voters arrive early at LaFollette
Nearly 40 people cast ballots at the LaFollette School on Milwaukee’s north side one hour after polls opened Tuesday.
Glenn Mathews, the chief inspector at the site, said that’s busier than he’s ever seen voting at LaFollette, including presidential elections in 2012 and 2016.
“Busy, nice flow,” he said of the initial morning rush.
Voters leaving the poll Tuesday morning all said they felt turnout in the Borchert Field neighborhood and all of Milwaukee would improve from 2016.
Nevertheless, none of the voters who spoke to the Journal Sentinel said they felt enthusiastic about either presidential candidate.
“I feel like we’re going downhill,” said Demetrius Jones, 21. He said he’d “almost” be better off writing in someone else’s name.
Several voters were also happy to cast their ballot in person after a historic number of voters in the US have done so by mail already.
“It was beautiful,” said Shantelle Brooks, 37.
She brought her daughter along Tuesday to “show her what democracy looks like.”
— Elliot Hughes
8:13 a.m.: Higher-than-expected volume of early voters at Marshfield polling place
At Wildwood Station in Marshfield, Bob Haight, chief election official for the polling site, said they are seeing a much larger turnout than previous elections.
The room was filled with voters by 6:50 a.m. They are having issues with people not social distancing, and there is some confusion about the correct lines people should be in, which is causing frustration, he said.
— Melissa Siegler
8:10 a.m.: Virtually no wait at Trinity United in Madison
The line was no more than two or three people at 7:30 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Madison.
A voter who arrived at 7:35 a.m. put their ballot in the tabulator at 7:50 a.m.: taking exactly 15 minutes from start to finish for her to cast her vote.
Chief Inspector John Perkins said their staffing this November was “10 to 12 people higher than I’ve ever seen for a fall election.” He put total staffing of the polling location at around 25.
While he said when they first opened, there were about 15 people in line and it took a little longer for them to get through; that initial crowd was cleared quickly.
Perkins added that in their ward, about 850 absentee ballots were checked in as of Saturday.
— Nuha Dolby
8:08 a.m.: Even with high early-voting turnout, line out the door in Stevens Point
Some voting lines in Stevens Point were out the door this morning, a surprise to local election officials given that some 25,000 Portage County residents cast ballots in the weeks running up to the election.
District 10 Chief Inspector Liz Fulton said she was surprised to see a line formed outside the Ruth Gilfry Center on Whiting, one of the city’s 11 polling places.
As in April and August, poll workers greeted voters behind masks and plexiglass and plenty of hand sanitizer.
Darlene and Larry Bakken, 72 and 73, were among the first to vote this morning. For them, this election is about taxes, because they live on a fixed income. They voted for President Donald Trump, just as they did in 2016.
“We like that he keeps American first,” Darlene Bakken said. “That’s not to say we don’t care about other countries, but every country should take care of their people first.”
— Alan Hovorka
8:04 a.m.: 18-year-old prepares to cast his first ballot
Nicholas Montgomery, 18, waited for his first chance to cast a ballot at Marshall High School on Tuesday morning.
"I always grew up watching my parents vote, and they always told me it was an important subject and prepare me for now, after I turn 18."
He was joined by his stepfather, John Sumlin.
"I thought it was very important that we got in and register," Sumlin said. "It didn't dawn on me when I did my absentee voting that my son would be turning 18 during the election. So, I went to school and picked him up, brought him back home, so today we're going to register and vote for him today."
— Angela Peterson
7:49 a.m.: 'I feel like the two-party system really doesn't work for our generation'
Elisabeth Johnson, 23, was among the first voters today at Riverside High School. It’s the second presidential election she could vote in, and she said she was frustrated a second time by the available choices. But she still felt it was important to vote.
“I feel like the two-party system really doesn’t work for our generation, and I hope that we’re the ones that are able to fix it,” she said.
Johnson had trouble registering and voting before election day because the address on her ID doesn’t match where she lives and votes. Because she already had coronavirus, she said she wasn’t very concerned about safety, though she wore a mask. She said she was in and out of the polling place in 15 minutes.
— Rory Linnane
7:40 a.m.: In Marshfield, fewer first-in-line voters than usual as polls open
About 50 people waited in line before polls opened at Oak Avenue Community Center in Marshfield, but the line moved quickly once voting started.
Ron Steltenpohl. who has worked as a poll worker in Marshfield for about 30 years, said the turnout as polls opened was less than usual for a presidential election because so many people have already voted. Nearly 7,200 people, or 67% of Marshfield’s registered voters, had already turned in their absentee ballots before Tuesday.
Autumn Rockteschel, 20, got in line around 6:50 a.m. and was done by around 7:10. This was her first time voting in a presidential election. She said she decided to vote in person because she wanted to make sure her ballot was counted. The most important issues to her are women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and the environment.
— Melissa Siegler
7:25 a.m.: Setting the scene in Green Bay
In Green Bay, Jason Dorner was fifth in line when he arrived at Bay Beach Amusement Park to vote on Tuesday morning. It's one of 16 polling sites open in the city of Green Bay. Darner voted before bringing his children back later to cast their ballots, too. He said it feels good to have the end of the election in sight.
“I just got done working at 6 o’clock and figured I’d get ahead of the crowd right away,” Dorner said. “I’m feeling very good to not have to hear all of this drama every day. Every day. Now, if we can cut down on the coronavirus drama, that’d be even better.”
— Jeff Bollier
7:23 a.m.: Setting the scene in Madison
There were about 30 people in line at Akira Toki Middle School in Madison at 7 a.m. The majority of that line stood inside the building, with six or seven people standing outside.
Four election officials, wearing masks, face shields and bright yellow vests, stood outside and directed voters to the building. There were multiple “vote here” signs planted along the driveway to the middle school.
The first voter to cast a vote exited the building at 7:06 a.m.; a voter who arrived at 6:55 a.m. left at 7:20 a.m.
At 7:08 a.m., a voter walked up to the middle school. He stated that he’d dropped his absentee ballot off at a library nearby some days ago, but it hadn’t been marked as received. He added that he’d tried contacting someone at the clerk’s office, to an unsatisfactory response. An election official walked him into the building to speak to, as she put it to the others after she walked back outside, “someone who knew what they were doing who wasn’t me.”
The voter returned two minutes later, saying the election official inside “just kind of spoke to me and then walked away.” After those outside tried to reassure him, saying absentee ballots were being processed all day, he said he’d return later.
— Nuha Dolby
7:19 a.m.: Scene peaceful at Riverside in Milwaukee
About 15 voters had lined up before polls opened this morning at Riverside High School, where tape on the gym floor marked socially distant places to stand, and poll workers sat behind plexiglass shields.
Election inspector Andy Kallies said they are fully staffed with about 32 poll workers. One is assigned to sanitize voting booths after each use. Each voter is given a new pen, which is also sanitized after use. Two people had checked in as election observers, a role anyone can assume on election day by checking in with the inspector.
There was no sign of voter intimidation outside the polling place. A volunteer was offering a spread of masks, gloves and sanitizer.
— Rory Linnane
7:12 a.m.: The polls are open across the state
About 50 people in line before 7 a.m. at Wisconsin Rapids’ east-side polling place.
Volunteers at the polls were trying to excite the crowd at the front of the line with cheers.
By 7a.m., the line had doubled and stretched almost the length of the East Jr. High School building.
Wendy Lange, 43, of Wisconsin Rapids came out before 7 a.m. to stand in line to vote. She said with talk about voter fraud this election year, she thought it was best to vote in person on Election Day, but she said there was also a sense of nostalgia that comes with getting up early to get out and vote on the day.
While she is a regular voter, Lang said this year was important for her to vote because it’s a pivotal point for the country.
“No matter who wins, we have two very different candidates who will go two very different ways.”
— Caitlin Shuda
7:08 a.m.: State officials will speak in Madison, Milwaukee for get-out-the-vote tour
Several Wisconsin political figures will travel across the state in support of Joe Biden for the "WINsconsin" get-out-the-vote tour today.
Senator Tammy Baldwin, lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes, congressional representatives Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore, attorney general Josh Kaul and state treasurer Sarah Godlewski will be among those on the tour.
The team will deliver a press conference at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Goodman Pool Parking Lot in Madison and will visit Milwaukee at 11:45 a.m., appearing at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. bronze statue at the intersection of N. Martin Luther King Drive and W. Vine Street.
6:40 a.m.: Take a look at the eight races in Wisconsin for U.S. representative
The presidential election is the biggest item, but Wisconsinites will also be voting in eight congressional races. Those races include incumbents Bryan Steil, Mark Pocan, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, Glenn Grothman, Tom Tiffany and Mike Gallagher. In the eighth race, state Senate Majority Leader Tom Fitzgerald and Tom Palzewicz are vying for the seat previously held by Jim Sensenbrenner.