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With pandemic precautions in place, turnout holds steady at lone Waukesha polling site

Data pix.

WAUKESHA -- Voters in Waukesha lined up early Tuesday morning outside the city's one polling place, and the turnout remained steady throughout the day.

The city set up cones to help people line up and practice social distancing -- one of the many extra precautions taken to keep voters safe. Some voters said the precautions don't go far enough, while others said they were not necessary.

"I'm taking my own life in my hands," one voter said. "This is what we've come to."

In Waukesha, every ballot came with a mask, hand sanitizer and plenty of reminders to practice social distancing.

"For people who are new to this, it's hard to remember to do that," said Gina Kozelik, Waukesha city clerk. "We're trying to cue people, and we've got cones up."

The city clerk said preparing for the spring election has been just as much work as preparing for a fall presidential election. There have been many changes and a record number of absentee ballot requests. The biggest challenge, though, was recruiting and training poll workers.

Gina Kozelik

"A lot of things were thrown together really quick, but I think they are coming together," Kozelik said.

There are typically 13 polling places in Waukesha and enough poll workers to staff them. This spring, many of those workers decided not to volunteer because of the coronavirus pandemic. The National Guard stepped in to help; the fire department helped, too, providing some personal protective equipment for poll workers and a mask for every voter who wanted one.

"Scare the people, fear the people. None of that nonsense," said one voter. "We're going to go in and vote."

Voters who requested an absentee ballot can drop them off at the in-person polling site without stepping foot inside. 30 workers were tallying all the absentee ballots at a central processing location. 42% of voters in Waukesha requested an absentee ballot. The clerk expects results to take days.

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