Trying to “beat the crowds,” early voters may have to bring patience to the polls

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The first week of early voting is coming to an end in Wisconsin. So how are things coming along?

Leslie Smart and her husband, Rick, voted early for one main reason.

"To beat the crowds," said Leslie.

But from the moment they walked in the Market St. entrance of the Municipal Building in downtown Milwaukee, they could tell they lost that battle. On average, election officials say about 1,000 people a day have been coming there to vote. Friday, October 24th was the busiest yet.

The City Clerk says while voter traffic was pretty steady, she and voters have noticed something unusual this year -- lunchtime, which is usually busy, has been slow.

Keeping in mind this election historically gets a lower turnout than a presidential election, election officials in Waukesha say numbers are still pretty low so far -- at least compared to 2010. But voters in Waukesha do not seem concerned.

"We do have some time yet," said Kari Schulte.

"I bet it's going to be a higher turnout for the mid-term than maybe historically," said Mark Schulte.

Over in Menomonee Falls, the foot traffic is somewhere in between what Milwaukee and Waukesha are seeing. Election officials there say it's been really hit or miss as far as voters beating the lines. However, even if they do get stuck in a crowd, these voters say it's worth it.

"This is an important race, a very close race -- and we want to make sure our vote is counted this year," said Diane Golla.

In-person absentee voting (also known as early voting) runs on weekdays for two weeks before an election, ending at 5 p.m. or the close of business (whichever is later) on the Friday before the election.  For the 2014 general election, the dates are October 20th through the 31st.

Check with your municipal clerk for office hours -- and remember, early voting is no longer permitted on weekends. You can find your clerk at MyVote WI: myvote.wi.gov by searching for your voter record or performing an address search. You can also find your clerk by searching through the list of all Wisconsin municipal clerks.

The Voter Registration Guide contains more detailed information about registration. Voter registration forms are also available here to download.