MADISON, Wis. - State and local election officials are reporting heavy voter turnout for Tuesday's historic recall election.
Voters are reporting long lines at many polling places in the election that will determine the course of state government. Republican Gov. Scott Walker and five other GOP lawmakers were targeted for recall after pushing through legislation last year stripping most public employees of their collective bargaining rights in order to balance the state budget.
Turnout of 65 percent statewide is predicted. The average turnout in a midterm election for governor is 47 percent.
In Madison, city officials turnout appeared to be about 50 percent.14741652
In Odana Hills Golf Course, where officials said that turnout is typically higher than average, more than 70 percent of turnout is estimated. Gary Poulson, the chief inspector, said that the area usually has turnout numbers about 10 to 15 percent above the city's.
Pulson said a line of about 70 people formed outside Odana at 6:30 a.m., which is about half an hour before polls even opened.
"This is such a focused issue kind of election that it doesn't surprise me. And the clerk supplied us with enough ballots for 100 percent," he said.
Madison's city clerk said that traditionally, turnout numbers double from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. That number then doubles again from between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Turnout for the city of Madison was at 26 percent at 11 a.m., which means turnout could actually exceed 100 percent. This turnout projection is based on the number of registered voters. It doesn't count the number of voters filling out these registration forms on site.
The highest turnout in Wisconsin history was back in 2004 when the number was 72.9 percent, WISC-TV reported.
In the rest of the state, Officials with the Government Accountability Board tweeted that no widespread problems have been reported in vote gathering around the state, but they did have one report of a damaged tabulator that poll workers found in the Marathon County Village of Rothschild. Police were called to investigate.
Walker and his wife, Tonette, waited in line as the polls opened at 7 a.m. before voting in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa. His Democratic challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett voted at the Milwaukee French Immersion school.
Milwaukee Elections Commission director Susan Edman said her technicians are reporting lines at many city voting places. The polling station in Madison had a line about 30 people deep shortly after it opened.
In a suburb north of Milwaukee, 72-year-old William Dixon, a self-employed woodworker, said he voted for Barrett out of disgust with Walker's collective bargaining policies. Dixon said that asking public employees to pay more for their benefits is one thing, but taking away the right to bargain for wages is another thing.
Democrats and labor activists gathered more than 900,000 signatures to force the recall.
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