Early voting numbers high

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Absentee ballot requests in Rock County are running high for the recall election, but there is no way to determine whether this signals a heavy turnout for the June 5 vote in Wisconsin, said Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler.

But, Stottler did said that based on feedback from municipal clerks, there is heavier than usual early voting.

“Some clerks have told us that voting so far is at near-presidential election levels,” she said. “We can’t determine if this means more people will turn out on June 5 or if it is just people planning to be out of town at the end of the school year.”

Beloit City Clerk Rebecca S. Houseman said absentee voting has been strong.

“We have issued about 560 absentee ballots and 260 of them have been filled in and returned,” Houseman said.

Her office mailed out seven ballots requested by members of the military.

Any registered voter may vote ahead of time instead of going directly to the polls election day. Absentee voting started Monday and ends at 5 p.m. on June 1. Voters may request an absentee ballot from the city clerk’s office, Beloit City Hall, 100 State St., in person or by phone at 608-364-6684 before 5 p.m. on May 31. Ballots can be mailed to the voter’s address. Once marked and sealed, the ballots go back to the city clerk.

There is no particular reason required for requesting to vote absentee. Some people may have physical problems that make it difficult to get to the polls. Others may prefer to vote early for convenience.

Voting registration takes places at the clerk’s office prior to the election or at individual polling places on voting day.

Houseman said that voter registration is not complicated. The resident must show proof of residence and fill in a simple form. Once registered, the voter does not need to show ID in order to vote.

Wisconsin residents can check to see if they are registered voters by visiting the state’s Voter Public Access website at https://vpa.wi.gov. The city of Beloit’s website provides a link to the voter roster.

At the Beloit city website, a person can also double-check which of Beloit’s nine polling places is the right one for his or her address. Anyone with questions is welcome to call the city clerk’s office.

Houseman explained that absentee votes are sealed and stored securely in the clerk’s office until they are brought to the appropriate polling places. “Ballots are not opened or counted until election day at the polling place,” she said.

An early voter rally took place Thursday at Beloit Democratic Headquarters, 314 State St.

Wisconsin Assembly Rep. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, addressed the gathering of 15 people, along with former Wisconsin State Sen. Judy Robson and former State Rep. Chuck Benedict. Ringhand spoke on the importance of voting in the June 5 recall election. She said that she already voted early by absentee ballot since she will be traveling on election day.

Robson plans to vote early also.

“Voting ahead of election day makes it more convenient for busy people. We are here to help make voting as open and accessible as possible,” Robson said.

Beloiter Robert Morrison has been volunteering his time going door to door.

“People have strong opinions. In most cases, it’s pretty clear they know which way they’re going to vote,” he said.

Eric Marks, an organizer for the Democratic Party said, he expects a big voter turnout for the recall election.

“Wisconsin’s recall initiative is the biggest thing outside of the presidential race,” he said. “There’s a lot on the line for working people.”

The polls will be open on election day June 5 from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.

The recall election will decide who will occupy the Wisconsin governor and lieutenant governor positions. Republican governor Scott Walker is pitted against Democrat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican, is on the ballot against Madison firefighter Mahlon Mitchell.

The Government Accountability Board says that although this is the first statewide recall election, there have been five other recall elections in Wisconsin dating back to the early 1930s.

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