Absentee Ballots Lag Well Behind 2016 Numbers

What impact will early voting have on next week's election? The number of absentee ballots cast in Wisconsin as of early this week was markedly down from the presidential election two years ago. #wiright #wipolitics Click To Tweet

MacIver News Service | Oct. 30, 2018

By Abby Streu

MADISON – With just days before Election Day, early voting and registration is coming to a close, and campaigns are beginning their final push to cajole voters to the polls.

But tens of thousands of voters won’t be casting ballots next Tuesday. They’ve already voted. 

Absentee voting has surged in recent weeks, but vote counts are nowhere near where they were in 2016’s presidential contest, according to the latest data from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. MacIver News Service has pulled and summarized the numbers coming from key counties in this election.

In liberal stronghold Dane County, at the beginning of October, 1,752 voters had submitted their absentee ballots. As of Monday, the total climbed to 45,486 ballots, according to official numbers from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which collects absentee ballot numbers on a county-level. According to Mayor Paul Soglin, the City of Madison accounts for 32,332 of those absentee ballots, which he says is a new record.

That might be the case for mid-term elections. However, at this point in the November 2016 election cycle (October 31, 2016), Dane County had collected 69,024 absentee ballots.

In Democrat-friendly Milwaukee County, absentee ballots collected have increased from 3,481 to 47,899 over the same time period. In Milwaukee County at this point in the 2016 general election, 72,691 absentee ballots were recorded. 

In Eau Claire County, absentee ballots have increased from 288 to 5,078 between the beginning of October and Monday. 

In Brown County, one of the more politically purple regions of the state, 14,616 people had submitted absentee ballots as of Monday, about 10,000 fewer than the same date in 2016. 

Racine County election officials have recorded 10,379 ballots to-date, and Kenosha County has reported 9,953.

In the conservative “WOW counties,” Waukesha County reported 33,427 absentee ballots cast as of early this week, Washington County posted 8,791 absentee ballots, and Ozaukee County, 9,210. 

In 2016, Waukesha County had reported 47,972, Washington County, 14,282, and Ozaukee County, 12,145 by this point in the November election cycle. 

The last Marquette Law School Poll showed a statistical tie in the gubernatorial race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tony Evers (47-46 respectively). In Wisconsin’s nationally watched U.S. Senate race, the poll found incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) leading Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir (53-42). For attorney general, the Republican incumbent Brad Schimel leads Democratic challenger Josh Kaul 47 to 43.