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900 Voters Cast Ballots Early for Presidential Election

In-person absentee voting started on Monday, and since then about 900 voters in Port Washington and Saukville have cast their ballots, city and village officials say.

With less than two weeks until the Nov. 6 election, voters have been hitting the polls in high but expected numbers at both Port Washington City Hall and Saukville Village Hall.

Deputy Clerk Mary Kay Baumann said about 45 to 50 voters have visited the location for early voting every day since it began on Monday.

Was this expected?

"Oh yeah, definitely," she said, adding that the village had a total of 660 absentee ballots for the 2008 presidential election, and they expected this year to be higher.

Port Washington City Clerk Susan Westerbecke said a total of 658 ballots had been cast from Monday until 3 p.m. Friday, with the highest single voting day being Monday with 172 early voters.

Westerbecke said the term "early voting" has left some people confused and frustrated.

"This term, 'early voting' — we don’t really have early voting in this state … we have absentee voting in-person. We ... have people coming in thinking they are going in machines," she said, adding that in reality they are completing absentee ballots.

Westerbecke said in the 2008 election the city had about 1,500 to 1,600 absentee ballots and she expects about 1,700 this time around.

In-person absentee voting continues through Friday, Nov. 2. Port Washington and Saukville residents can cast their ballot between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at their city and village halls.

Reid Magney with the Government Accountability Board said the in-person early voting window has been compressed into a two-week period this year, which may be the reason for such a quick number of votes cast. 

"We have a compressed two-week period of time for early voting in the clerks office, whereas, in previous years, it may have started three or more weeks before the election," Magney said. Absentee ballots were available sooner this year than in previous years as well, he said. 

Approximately 110,000 absentee ballots have been requested so far in municipalities that use the Statewide Voter Registration System, Magney said. But of the 1,851 municipalities, only 830 use the system, he said. So this can only offer a small slice of a statewide visual on voter turnout.  

"In 2008, there were 633,000 absentee ballots cast and we estimate that about 65 percent of those were cast in the clerk's office," Magney said. "So, that's one benchmark, but this early in the process before in-person absentee voting has started yet, it's hard to tell anything."

For information on polling places, voter ID laws and candidate profile pages, check out Patch's Election Guide 2012.

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