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Politics & Government

Wisconsin Official Predicts Record Turnout for Presidential Primary

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Ann-Elise Henzl
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Polls in Wisconsin will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

When you vote on Tuesday, you're likely to see big crowds. Neil Albrecht is executive director of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission. He's projecting that 50-60 percent of all registered voters will head to the polls, which he says "is very strong for an April election."

Albrecht compares the projection to the presidential primary in 2012, when only 38 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

Despite the busy day expected Tuesday, Albrecht expects crowds to be "very manageable," considering that turnout will be much lower than during a November presidential election, which can be closer to 90 percent.

But crowds aren't the only thing Albrecht will be keeping an eye on, on Tuesday. He'll also be watching how voters adapt to the photo ID requirement. This will be the biggest election since the relatively new rule took effect. Albrecht says during early voting the last couple of weeks, some voters weren't ready:

"We have had to turn people away. But, of course, they have then the rest of the days that early voting is occurring to return with their photo ID, which is very different than on an election day where you're really limited to the hours of your polling place. I do think that tomorrow's election will be the real gauge -- or at least, a much closer gauge -- of the impact of photo ID on voter participation. I'm hopeful that the word has gotten out, but I know that people may not be able to cast their ballot because they won't have that photo ID readily available for voting."

Albrecht adds that some voters may be confused by ballots they find on Tuesday:

"It is a difficult ballot, and we saw really unprecedented requests for assistance during early voting -- a lot of people with a lot of questions about the ballot. This is the only ballot in the four-year election cycle where you have a partisan contest, meaning the partisan primary for president, and then all of the other contests, which of course are going to draw voters, as well. We have state Supreme Court, we have county executive, we have the mayor, aldermen. Those are all non-partisan offices, meaning those candidates have no affiliation with a political party through their elected office. And so sometimes people think, 'well, this is either all partisan...' and they’re looking at the candidates in the other offices and saying, 'how do I know who's the Democrat and who's the Republican?' And of course, that doesn't apply. Those are non-partisan offices."

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