BDN_02012_VOTE

Beloit City Clerk-Treasurer Lori Stottler demonstrates the Badger Books electronic voter poll book that will be used at polling places in the upcoming 2020 elections for the City of Beloit.

BELOIT—Beloit City Clerk-Treasurer Lori Stottler says the Feb. 18 primary election will be the perfect time to test out new equipment in the field with a low turnout expected.

The Feb. 18 primary will see only one race on the ballot, for Wisconsin Supreme Court justice as Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette University Law School professor Ed Fallone take on incumbent justice Daniel Kelly. The two highest vote-getters will advance to the April 7 contest

No primaries are listed for Beloit City Council, School District of Beloit Board of Education or Rock County Board of Supervisors.

New voting machines, known as the ExpressVote system, are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to replace aging voting machines and offer bilingual voting options. In total, 49 new machines were purchased by Rock County municipalities at a cost of $3,445 per machine, according to Rock County Circuit Clerk Lisa Tollefson.

Twenty machines went to Beloit and Janesville, the county’s two largest communities. Beloit purchased nine machines and Janesville purchased 11 machines. The Town of Beloit purchased three, according to records provided by Tollefson.

Alongside the new voting machines at polling places will be the continued use of the electronic Badger Books poll documents, something Stottler said would increase efficiency and decrease wait times at polls. The systems, that were created in 2017 by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, provide a way for election officials to check voters in more quickly.

“They streamline the process,” Stottler said.

The new technology could also prevent past issues cropping up again following record voter turnout in 2018 ({span}77.3% of eligible voters, 11,557 ballots cast) that caused the city’s three busiest polling places to run out of ballots at {span}Central Christian Church, Gaston Elementary and Beloit Public Library before 1,500 additional ballots were printed.{/span}{/span}

Polling places are consolidated for the Feb. 18 election. Wards 1-12 will vote at the Beloit Historical Society, 845 Hackett St.; wards 13-25 will vote at Central Christian Church, 2460 Milwaukee Road. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Voters can update voter registration information at myvote.wi.gov/ or register day-of if they have proof of residency and the required photo ID.

Stottler said she expected a low turnout of 5% due to the lack of high profile races on the ballot. She stressed that voters should remember they will select presidential candidates in the April 7 spring election alongside local candidates for city council, county board and school board.

“That’s the biggest thing we see,” Stottler said. “Voters get confused about that and we want to make them aware about the fact there’s no presidential preference on the Feb. 18 ballot.”

In Illinois, voters will head to the polls on March 17 to select primary candidates for county board, county board chair, county auditor, county coroner, state’s attorney, precinct committee alongside the presidential preference primary ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.

In the run up to the busy election year, Stottler encouraged residents to consider volunteering as an election official. Information to do so is available at beloitwi.gov/.

Voters can cast absentee ballots until Friday, Feb. 14 at the clerk’s office, 100 State St., second floor.