As early voting starts off, the Government Accountability Board is predicting an overall voter turnout in the millions for Wisconsin. 

Reid Magney, spokesperson for the GAB, said it is too early to tell if the early voting count will match expectations. 

“We expect three million voters and one in five ballots being absentee,” Magney said.

According to a statement released by the GAB, Wisconsin officials have given 225,209 absentee ballots to citizens. 

Of those ballots, 101,253 were from county clerks’ offices, and 123,956 were sent by mail.

Elections Division Administrator of the GAB Nate Robinson said citizens are sometimes confused about the difference between absentee and early voting in Wisconsin, according to the statement.

“Some people who vote in the clerk’s office expect to be able to put their ballot into a tabulating machine or a ballot box,” Robinson said. “Under Wisconsin law, these ballots must be put into sealed certificate envelopes and sent to the polling place or a central count location on Election Day, where they will be opened and tabulated by election inspectors.” 

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said once the actual voting begins, people usually take it seriously and are respectful.

Heck said on Election Day, all the fears of both sides “tend not to be realized.”

According to Heck, the GAB has done a great job under the difficult circumstances the recalls present. 

Heck said the GAB is doing a “non-partisan, good job.”

“There are people on the right and the left who criticize the GAB and don’t like what they’re doing, but I think for the most part they have served the great majority of the people very well,” Heck said.

Heck said Common Cause will put out a toll-free number for any citizen to call for help, which is 1-866-OURVOTE.

The number is for a national coalition, Heck said.

“It will tell voters what they need to bring or once they’re at the polls and they do face some problems, they can call this number and there will be legal advice available about how they can proceed,” Heck said.

Gail Bliss, chair of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said it is important to not only vote but to know one wants to vote for and why.

Bliss encouraged people to know more about all the candidates, not just those in the national election.

“Citizens need to know that local officials impact their lives as well. The local sheriff impacts laws on loitering, and the local treasurer affects property taxes,” Bliss said. “It is important to not just vote in the elections featured at the top of the ballot.”
Bliss recommended voters who do not participate in early voting should vote early in the day because if there is a problem with casting a citizen’s ballot, there will be more time to get it fixed.

Bliss added those who are not registered should remember to bring documents with their names and addresses on them.

Kevin Kennedy, the director of the GAB, suggested in the GAB statement that voters check the hours of their municipal clerks before early voting.