Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Absentee ballots slow down count

In an election deemed too close to call, a record number of absentee ballots have had a direct influence on the delayed results for the presidential election in the state of Wisconsin and in Madison.

Madison ballot results were still officially incomplete and were being processed by the city as of press time, but 99 percent of precincts in Dane County were reporting.

“The wards were extremely busy all day and they weren’t able to process the absentee ballots while there were still people voting,” Deputy City Clerk Sharon Christensen said shortly before press time. “We knew they’d be late. There’s no way to get [ballots] counted while people are voting.”


Polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday and absentee ballots were taken to the polling places where the voters would have originally voted. The ballots were then opened and processed.

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, the city clerk’s office issued 25,174 absentee ballots in the city of Madison and 23,517 were returned to the City Clerk’s Office, according to Christensen.

The 23,517 returned absentee ballots greatly overshadowed the 6,781 absentee ballots processed in Madison during the 2000 presidential election, Christensen added.

Ald. Mike Verveer, a poll worker for the election, said the record-breaking number of absentee ballots were a direct result of early voting efforts. Groups such as the College Democrats used bus shuttles to transport people from the Memorial Union to the City Clerk’s Office to vote absentee.

University of Wisconsin sophomore Laura Gramann said these efforts were helpful when she chose to vote absentee despite the undeclared results.

“[Voting early] was highly publicized and students were told there would be long lines at the polls this election,” Gramann added. “I appreciated the absentee ballot and I plan on using it for every election.”

Verveer said the early voting efforts did help eliminate lines at the polls Tuesday.

“We did not have significant lines for much of the afternoon and evening,” Verveer said.

Nearly 1,800 people voted Monday before the election, Christensen added.

“A lot of people voted absentee so they didn’t have to stand in line, which was an issue in 2000,” Christensen said.

Voter turnout will be approximately 75 percent in Madison when results are officially declared, she added.

According to the City Clerk’s Office, 52,250 electors had been cast by 11 a.m. Tuesday. During this time the number of absentee ballots was counted at 22,872. When the 11 a.m. absentee and city votes were compiled, they totaled 75,392 votes together, a number representing 43.2 percent of the registered voters as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Due to the undeclared Wisconsin vote count, an updated figure was not available by press time.

UW sophomore Megan Wood, a native of Minnesota, voted absentee in Wisconsin this election. She said she chose to vote in Wisconsin because it was a bigger swing state and she wanted to cast a vote for Kerry that would have a greater impact.

“I thought Wisconsin would be more Bush-supporting,” Wood said. “I wanted to cast a vote for Kerry that had a greater weight.”

Wood said when she pre-registered she had a ballot sent to her home address. When she received the ballot she filled it out and mailed it back to the City Clerk’s Office two weeks ago.

“I voted absentee also because I didn’t want to stand in line at the polls,” Wood said.

During a hectic week of work and midterms, Gramann said she simply could not find time to vote on Tuesday. Her ballot was sent to her residence and she filled it out and sent it in.

“I could sit and ponder over it and then make an educated decision and easily send it back,” Gramann said. “It was too easy to pass up. I didn’t have to wait in line.”

Gramann added she thinks the majority of students who voted absentee did so for similar reasons revolving around busy schedules and long lines.

James Davison contributed to this report

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