RACINE COUNTY — While the governor has announced plans to issue a "safer at home" order, he has not postponed the April 7 election.
Each municipality in Racine County is still offering in-person early voting, with varying degrees of restriction, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, city, village and town clerks are still suggesting voters request mail-in ballots from myvote.wi.gov and avoid in-person voting if possible.
“I continue to urge all eligible voters to get an absentee ballot,” Gov. Tony Evers said Friday. “This will make things safer for all of us.”
The April 7 election includes the presidential primary, the Racine Unified School District referendum, a state Supreme Court race, a state Appeals Court race and local municipal and school board contests.
Reports from around the county show that clerks are feeling the pressure to keep up with seemingly constant changes regarding the epidemic and related orders from the state, but they are by and large succeeding in making sure it is still possible and easy to vote.
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“It’s rather hectic,” Raymond Village Clerk Linda Terry said in a Monday email to The Journal Times. She said she has been getting 30 to 50 requests a day for absentee ballots, throwing a lot of work on her — Terry is the only full-time employee at the Village Hall on 76th Street — but she said she’s been able to get help from her part-time deputy clerks: “They have been wonderful and things are getting done.”
On Friday, a federal judge ordered Wisconsin to keep its online registration system open longer than it was originally planned to be. Online registration was supposed to close Wednesday, but U.S. District Judge William Conley said that it must be kept open due to the pandemic.
Every municipal clerk The Journal Times spoke with emphasized this, asking voters to request mail-in ballots and to avoid coming to vote in person.
Several states have pushed back their April elections.
Some cities, including Oak Creek and the City of Milwaukee, have canceled early in-person voting because they don’t have the staff to keep up with the number of voters.
Scores of local leaders sent Wisconsin Gov. Evers a letter on Sunday, warning him that the state has not been doing enough to protect voters from the pandemic as the spring election approaches. Some have called upon the state Legislature and Evers to delay the April 7 election, but elected leaders and the governor have shown they don’t plan on doing that.
As of 12:30 p.m. Monday, no Racine County municipalities had given up on early voting altogether. But they are coming up with varying strategies to deal with the situation.
Different municipalities have come up with different strategies, from drive-thru voting to social distancing at polling places.
Several municipal clerks, in conversations with The Journal Times, said that situations are subject to change depending on myriad factors, including health officials’ guidance, government orders and local tweaks.
Here’s a rundown of what all Racine County municipalities are doing regarding in-person early voting:
City of Racine
In-person absentee voting is happening at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave., during normal business hours (8 a.m to 5 p.m. weekdays), but not at the Clerk’s office.
Public health officials and the City Clerk provide instruction to residents as they enter the building.
Elderly, people with disabilities, and individuals who may be sick are allowed and encouraged to do curbside voting.
City Hall is the only early voting location in the city because the Racine Public Library and the community centers were closed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Village of Mount Pleasant
In-person voting is still available at the Mount Pleasant Village Hall, 8811 Campus Drive, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on weekdays but that is subject to change, based on advisory from the Central Racine County Health Department and the Wisconsin Election Commission.
In an email, Village Clerk Stephanie Kohlhagen said: “We have had a great turnout so far in person with voters maintaining social distancing … we realize we must be as flexible with our plans as possible and we would ask voters to watch our Facebook Page and the Village website for any changes for tomorrow.”
Village of Caledonia
In-person voting is still on at Caledonia Village Hall, 5043 Chester Lane. But, there is a maximum of 10 voters at a time in the building, with polling stations set up 6 feet apart.
The hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
City of Burlington
Absentee voting is still open at the Burlington Police Station, 224 E. Jefferson St., from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. until April 3.
Village of Sturtevant
Sturtevant Village Hall, 2801 89th St., is only open for voters currently from 8 a.m.- 4:55 p.m. weekdays until April 3.
Villages of Union Grove and Yorkville
Curbside absentee voting is available at the Union Grove Municipal Center, 925 15th Ave., from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. every weekday.
Village of Waterford
On Monday, Waterford said it would join other county municipalities by offering drive-thru voting. It will be offered from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. throughout this week, and will likely be limited to 10 a.m.-2 p.m. next week, Village Clerk Rachel Ladewig said.
A notice on the village’s website advised drive-thru voters to have their ID and/or other appropriate documents ready when it’s their turn to vote. Drive-up voters are asked to enter the Village Hall parking lot, 123 N. River St., from Main Street and turning onto River Street.
Village of Wind Point
The Village of Wind Point announced Monday that it will begin conducting curbside in-person absentee voting from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at the Village Office, 215 E. Four Mile Road.
A blue tent has been set up near the office’s rear entrance, where voters can pull up in their vehicles and vote without getting out of their cars.
“Given Gov. Evers' recent indication of an order requiring residents to stay in their homes, there may be changes forthcoming to our process, depending on the requirements that the Village receives from the state,” Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer Casey Griffiths said in an email.
This photo represents how drive-up voters will park to cast their ballots in Wind Point to early vote ahead of the April 7 election.
How to drive through Wind Point's Village Hall to early absentee vote, 2020
Village of Rochester
In-person early voting is allowed, but only by appointment. To make an appointment, call 262-534-2431.
Village of Raymond
As of right now, in-office absentee voting is still possible from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays at the Village Hall, 2255 76th St.
Village of Elmwood Park
Early in-person voting is an option from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays until Election Day at Elmwood Park Village Hall, 3131 Taylor Ave.
Village of North Bay
In-person absentee polling has always been by appointment only at North Bay Village Hall, 3615 Hennepin Place, Village Clerk Dori Panthofer said. However, Panthofer is still “strongly urging voters” to vote from home.
To further protect poll workers and voters, drive-thru voting will be available on Election Day, Panthofer said.
Town of Burlington
As of 12:50 p.m. Monday, early voting at Burlington Town Hall, 32288 Bushnell Road, is still active from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday until April 3.
Town of Dover
Although voters are still encouraged to vote absentee because of COVID-19, polls in Dover Town Hall Office, 4110 South Beaumont Ave., will be open for early voting Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m.-noon until April 3.
Town of Norway
Drive-up voting will be available weekdays from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. at the Town Clerk’s Office at the town Municipal Building, 6419 Heg Park Road.
A Facebook post from the town promised that “All pens and clipboards as well as worker's hands will be sanitized routinely.”
Town of Waterford
Absentee voting at the Waterford Town Hall, 415 N. Milwaukee St., started March 17 and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. However, a maximum of 10 people will be allowed in at a time.
Voters “can expect long lines,” due to the increased demand for early voting, Town Clerk Tina Mayer said in an email.
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Voters in wards 16, 18 and 19, who normally would cast their ballot at Prince of Peace Church will instead be voting at Village Hall. Mount Pleasant may change some of its polling locations in the future.
Voters who normally cast their ballots and Racine Assembly of God, 1325 Airline Road, will instead need to go to the Village DPW building. All other Mount Pleasant voters will need to go to Village Hall.
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