Many Stateline voters casting ballots early

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Election officials on both sides of the state line say they are seeing a steady stream of early voters and absentee voters ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.

In Beloit, City Clerk Lori Stottler said the city had issued 786 ballots as of Wednesday and received 601 absentee ballots. She estimated numbers of those requesting in-person absentee ballots would increase incrementally up to more than 100 people per day leading up to the 5 p.m. deadline for absentee voting on Nov. 2.

In the 2016 general election Stottler said the city had seen anywhere from 175 to 200 voters per day requesting absentee ballots, noting the Nov. 6 race might not see as high of numbers since there is no election for U.S. President on the ballot.

Voters may cast absentee ballots in-person, but the ballots are securely stored at City Hall, 100 State St., before being counted and verified on Election Day, Stottler said. Currently in-person voting, where ballots are cast, counted and verified before a person leaves a clerk's office ahead of Election Day, is prohibited in Wisconsin.

"I don't foresee those numbers being that high," Stottler said. "It's been very consistent and steady but our resources have not been stressed yet. We are prepared for that and we have been very vocal about the fact we will have fully-staffed polling places on Election Day."

At the county level, Clerk Lisa Tollefson said as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the county had issued 6,176 absentee ballots. In 2016, the county saw more than 19,000 absentee ballots cast.

She said this year's numbers were lower than 2016 but higher than the 2014 midterms as voters continue to use the MyVote Wisconsin system that had "made things more easy" for voters to get ahead of Election Day crowds.

"It seems like we are going smoothly," Tollefson said.

To prevent the county's website from crashing the way it did during the Spring 2018 primary elections, Tollefson said the county had added increased information and technology capacity to "make things run smoothly," with IT staff working on other upgrades to help streamline the county's reporting website that slowed counts following the April crash.

IT staff will be on-site on Nov. 6, she added.

To ensure all absentee ballots are counted, Tollefson said voters should make sure their ballots are in the mail a week before the election since absentee ballots won't be processed if received after the election.

In Winnebago County, Clerk Tianna McCall said she had seen a steady stream of voters come in daily, with over 1,5000 ballots being cast in person so far by residents living outside of Rockford.

McCall said she couldn't compare this year's early voting turnout to past years since the county opened early voting on Sept. 27 but started later in previous years.

"I am excited that people are taking advantage of the early voting process," McCall said.

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