Early voting numbers pace ahead of 2010 election

GAB: More than 90K voted early as of Monday
Early voting numbers pace ahead of 2010 election

Enthusiasm seems to be driving early voting numbers to be ahead of what is typical in a midterm election.

Clerks are reporting higher than usual turnout despite hours being limited for the first time.

The city of Madison reported 4,179 people cast in-person absentee votes as of 3 p.m. Monday, pacing ahead of the total in-person absentee voting numbers in 2010 of 5,545.

The Waunakee clerk reported that as of Friday, 603 people had voted early, while 581 people total cast early ballots in a 30-day period in 2010.

Numbers are also pacing ahead in southeastern Wisconsin.

The Brookfield city clerk reported 2,272 people voted in-person absentee by Monday morning. In 2010, they saw 2,631 people vote early.

“I think it tells us something about how campaigns have gotten smarter about using early voting,” UW professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs Donald Moynihan said. “I think it is also interesting that it’s not just an urban phenomenon, that campaigns across the state are using this as a way to get their supporters out.”

This is the first major election where early voting has been limited. A bill passed last session limited hours to between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Some areas like Madison and Milwaukee had previously allowed evening and weekend hours.

Moynihan said that makes higher turnout somewhat surprising.

“Going down to two weeks, that is a much shorter time period,” Moynihan said of the sometimes 30 days that had been allowed before. “I think people are really engaged in this election and people have also become more used to the idea of early voting in Wisconsin.”

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board said Monday 90,452 people had voted early in the state’s largest municipalities. In 2010, there were 122,712 absentee ballots cast in person, and in the 2012 recall election there were 153,854 votes cast early.