© 2023 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Coronavirus And An Election: Voices From The Wisconsin Polls

It was a very unusual spring election and presidential primary in Wisconsin on Tuesday. It happened in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and due to a court order, results won't be made public until April 13.

Some lines at Milwaukee polling places stretched on for blocks. Since many poll workers stayed home out of concern over COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Milwaukee consolidated its 180 typical polling places into five large voting sites: Riverside High School, Marshall High School, South Division High School, Washington High School, and Hamilton High School.

Poll workers and many voters were decked out in protective masks and gloves.

WUWM was checking in at polling stations throughout the day to see how things were going. Here's what some people had to say in Milwaukee:

Poll workers

Tracey Sperko, Riverside High School: "They give us gloves, we get one mask for the day, half of us have gotten gowns as you see that I'm wearing right now. And then if we have anything extra, they're letting us wear that. And that's how we look in there. So it looks like a hospital inside there. And then we're giving hand sanitizer as everybody comes in."

Credit Maayan Silver
Josh Sperko (left) and his mom Tracey Sperko were poll workers at Riverside High School on Tuesday. They wore protective gear, including masks, gloves, and gowns to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

Josh Sperko, Riverside High School: "There are enough workers at these stations, but there aren't enough supplies for them. There aren't enough actual polling stations for people to write in on. There's not enough space for everyone, the lines all the way to the Urban Ecology Center blocks from the school that this is taking place at right now. There's just too much, there's not enough protections. And this is going to raise the number of cases in Milwaukee exponentially."


Peter Zehren, Riverside High School: "I've seen people who have been who came here saw the line and left and said well maybe we'll come back later. So we are going to see people who aren't voting because of the wait."

Joseph Hagen, Washington High School: "The line's not that long. I've heard longer from other places and stuff too, like five blocks, but it's like a block and a half at most. I'm happy that they're still doing the vote even with all this going on, so it kind of gives some semblance of normalcy at least."

Credit Teran Powell
Joseph Hagen (second from left) stands in line to vote Tuesday at Washington High School.

Eulandria Biddle, Washington High School: "I have no problem being out here today because I believe that in the midst of this pandemic if we can still vote, we should. We should get out and do our service to get out here and vote."

Faye King, Washington High School: "I'm very nervous. But I still want to vote, so I gotta stand out here."

Credit Teran Powell
Faye King (far right) in line to vote at Washington High School.

Kate Seaver, Washington High School: "It's not fair to everyone because not everyone has access to cars, and only five [polling] places means they're going to be spread out. So, maybe people who want to vote can't necessarily and that puts like a dampen on a lot of groups, especially in like this city, it's very segregated and a lot of communities — like 180 [polling stations] to five, not everyone can get out and vote."

Credit Teran Powell
Emily Eckert (left) and Kate Seaver, both 18, showed up together to vote at Washington High School. This was Seaver's first time voting.

What do you want to know about the 2020 elections and the DNC convention? Submit your questions below.


Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.
Maayan Silver is a WUWM news reporter.
Teran is WUWM's race & ethnicity reporter.
Lauren Sigfusson
Lauren became WUWM's digital producer in July 2018.
Related Content