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Double Duty Likely Ahead For Wisconsin Poll Workers On Election Day

Chuck Quirmbach
A parking area for curbside voting outside the UW-Milwaukee Student Union.

More poll workers are still needed around Wisconsin on Election Day, and there are indications they'll have to work even harder than during previous elections.

Wisconsin Elections Commission chief official Meagan Wolfe says that as of Thursday afternoon, about 200 poll workers were needed in 70 communities. In southeastern Wisconsin, more workers are needed in Cudahy, Elm Grove, the town of Waterford, three towns or villages in Kenosha County and one in Walworth County. You have to be a qualified voter in a county to work at a polling place within it.

Wolfe says the numbers and locations will continue to change in the days before the election, over the next 12 days, and the state will do its best to keep track. But, she says but one thing appears set.

"We continue to see we're in much better shape when it comes to poll workers than we saw in previous elections," Wolfe said. "I think that's great, and a real testament to our Wisconsinites’ willingness to serve their communities as poll workers."

Wolfe says the state continues to prepare to meet any emergency needs on Election Day. That includes potentially using willing state employees at the polls. She says it's up to Gov. Tony Evers to decide on use of the National Guard.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM
Early in-person voting at Wauwatosa City Hall.

Wolfe says poll workers will have plenty to do on Nov. 3, due to all the absentee ballots being cast in Wisconsin this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because they can't start opening and tallying those absentee ballots until polls open on Election Day," Wolfe said. "Also, the number of people that are still remaining that we expect to vote on Election Day in-person, they're going to be busy doing both. And so,  in many ways, our communities need more poll workers than they have before."

Election workers have already been busy. Wolfe says 1.57 million absentee ballots have been requested in Wisconsin. All but about 10,000 have been sent out. 

Voters have already filled out and returned 1.1 million ballots. That includes about 150,000 completed Tuesday and Wednesday of this week during early in-person absentee voting.  

Wolfe says it's hard to gauge if the in-person early vote is on an upswing compared to previous presidential elections, because other elections had a staggered start to that type of voting. Due to a court ruling, this is the first presidential race in Wisconsin with all communities starting in-person early voting no sooner than 14 days before Election Day.

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