Issues at the polls: New Berlin officials won’t consolidate polling places in the future

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NEW BERLIN — Officials with the City of New Berlin say they will not consolidate polling places for future elections following some longer lines during voting in the spring primary election on Tuesday, February 16th.

City officials say voter turnout in New Berlin, Waukesha County, and the state of Wisconsin as a whole was “much larger” than expected.

Wisconsin Government Accountability Board officials had estimated voter turnout to be around 10% for the spring primary.

The City of New Berlin experienced a 15% turnout.

Officials say lines at the polls and wait times for voters were also a result of new, slower voting machines mandated by Waukesha County, a shortage of ballots in Waukesha County, the higher-than-expected voter turnout, and the consolidation of polling places in New Berlin.

In an effort to save taxpayer dollars, city officials chose to consolidate election sites — utilizing just one polling location at City Hall on Tuesday.

Officials say this was done in previously anticipated low turnout elections with much success and cost savings.

But it won’t be done in the future, due to the issues experienced on Tuesday.

 

“In light of the wait times experienced by our voters on Tuesday, 2/16 and the extreme unpredictability of election turnouts as evidenced by this past election, moving forward the city will no longer combine polling locations. The city apologizes for any wait times experienced by our citizens, however applauds the large number of voters participating in the electoral process.  In the future, the city will make every effort to make the voting experience the most efficient process possible for our citizens,” New Berlin Mayor David Ament said.

Polling places were also consolidated Tuesday in Brown Deer in Milwaukee County. Voters could only vote at the Brown Deer Village Hall — and there were lines as a result. New voting machines were also utilized Tuesday in Brown Deer and throughout Milwaukee County.