Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett predicts voter turnout in his city to surpass 2016 numbers, but said it’s still too early to tell if the city will reach 2012 election turnout numbers.
“My intuition is that we will surpass 2016, I don’t know if we will reach the 2012 numbers,” Barrett said in a press conference outside Milwaukee’s Central Count location at 501 W. Michigan St. in Westown near the Wisconsin Center.
In the 2012 election, 287,350 people in Milwaukee voted in the presidential race. Four years ago, it was 246,201, according to numbers from the state Elections Commission.
Short lines at polling locations around Milwaukee are the result of the city’s decision to open 173 locations as opposed to five during the April 7 primary election, Barrett said. He also said increasing the number of drop boxes and promoting early voting contributed to the short lines.
“In April, when we instituted aggressive outreach for absentee ballots here, when we expanded dramatically the number of polling sites, when we expanded dramatically the number of dropboxes, I always felt that that was going to result in having no lines on Election Day,” Barrett said.
Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg said the commission counted 30,000 ballots by noon, but the final tally still won’t be available until the early morning hours tomorrow.
However, she said ballot machines are running well and election workers and volunteers at the Central Count location, referred to as “the warehouse” by commission workers, have been working smoothly after adjusting to the new process this morning.
Last minute difficulties processing absentee ballots means “there’s just always a little delay and we end up having a little bit of a traffic jam at the machines, but they are all working well. We haven’t had any technical issues with machines,” Woodall-Vogg said.
There have been no valid challenges to ballots from Central Count so far, according to Woodall-Vogg, but she said the total number of rejected ballots won’t be available until later in the week.
The Central Count location is staffed by 400 people per shift working in pairs and rotating throughout the day until the final, smaller crew of workers arrives to finish running the ballot machines late into the night.
Woodall-Vogg added that some absentee ballots have been turned in, but many are still out there. “My intuition is that we’ve seen several thousand, probably between 3,000-4,000 came in today, but not the 15,000-20,000 that were still outstanding,” she said.
The Milwaukee Election Commission will update the 414Votes website with numbers on absentee ballot submissions as they become available, Woodall-Vogg said.
See the 414Votes webpage
See a Wisconsin Elections Commission spreadsheet comparing 2012 and 2016 voter turnout across the state: