RACINE COUNTY — Turnout in Tuesday’s election was higher than the summer recall and the 2008 presidential election, according to initial Racine County numbers. And given high absentee ballot requests, strong in-person early voting and steady turnout on Election Day, Racine City Clerk Janice Johnson-Martin predicts that turnout Tuesday was also higher in the city.
Despite the increased turnout, Johnson-Martin said Tuesday’s presidential election went more smoothly than this summer’s recall, where politicians and poll-watching leveled charges of “voting irregularities” and other problems.
There were some reports of ballot shortages, but Johnson-Martin said the problem was taken care of and wasn’t as bad as it was rumored to be.
Turnout likely higher
“It does seem like it’s a little higher, but that’s just based on what I’ve seen,” Johnson-Martin said, adding that official totals should be ready Monday.
In 2008, when there were three weeks of early voting, Johnson-Martin said the city saw about 10,000 in-person early voters. The early in-person voting period was reduced to
two weeks for this year’s election, but Johnson-Martin said 7,000 people still early voted at the clerk’s office in that time.
“It went much more smoothly than the recall, definitely,” Johnson-Martin said of Tuesday’s election process. “We did get a lot of compliments ... about improvements and adjustments that we’ve made.”
After receiving criticism during this
summer’s recall, Johnson-Martin said the city increased its election area signage and added “greeters” to help voters when they arrive at a polling location, among other
But at one point on election night, the state Government Accountability Board announced on its website: “G.A.B. is
receiving reports of heavy voting in Southeast Wisconsin with some polling places in Racine and
Kenosha being close to running out of ballots.”
This led to rumors
that the city actually ran out of ballots, causing some people to leave before voting.
Not so, said Johnson-Martin.
“The City of Racine did not run out of ballots,” she said. “What happened was at some of the polling places, the chiefs let the ballots get all the way down, and then tried to call and say, ‘We need more ballots.’ ”
Although “that takes a little time,” Johnson-Martin said she and members of her staff did deliver extra ballots to those polling locations.
After the dust from the election settled, Johnson-Martin said she discovered that extra ballots were actually available at the locations reporting shortages, but had been forgotten in a compartment of the voting machines.
“After the election, we found they had not checked all the spots in
the machine,” Johnson-Martin said. “I believe they forgot to check the other two compartments, and we didn’t think to remind them.”
Nevertheless, she said, “We got to most of the places in time.”
In several cases where the chiefs thought they faced a ballot shortage, Johnson-Martin said they offered voters the option to vote via electronic touch-screen instead of using paper ballot.
Most importantly, Johnson-Martin said, she did not receive any reports of voters leaving the line because of ballot shortages.