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Early in-person voting begins in Milwaukee as next pandemic election approaches

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Madison, Wis. (CBS 58) – The August primary may not be as high profile as the November general election, but it will serve as an indicator of how municipalities are preparing to handle another election in the middle of a pandemic.

While early in-person absentee voting begins in Milwaukee and other cities Tuesday, July 28, there’s still a heavy focus on absentee voting by mail. Cities like Milwaukee and Green Bay consolidated voting sites to just a few during the April 7 election. Leaders hope to avoid those issues this time around.

“I’m very very optimistic that this is going to be a smooth sailing operation,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a media briefing Tuesday.

How smoothly the August and November elections run in Milwaukee will be in the hands of newly-appointed Elections Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg who is now running her first election in that position.

“I think the difference between April 7th and August 11th is that we’ve had time to prepare,” Woodall-Vogg told CBS 58.

“Our poll worker staffing is looking really good,” she added. “We found that when you are spreading out the voting sites and having less voter interaction […] that they’re more comfortable working.”

Milwaukee has more than a dozen early voting sites and will have 170 sites open on August 11. Voters can cast ballots there and expect fewer people than on election day. They can also drop off absentee ballots that they’ve completed.

“We’ve already sent out 75,000 absentee ballots for this election,” Woodall-Vogg said. “Just to give you some comparison we would normally send 7,500 for an August primary.”

The Common Council on Monday also approved grants that aim to help with voter access, security as well as purchase PPE for poll workers.

More information on voting early either in-person or by mail as well as information on the August 11 election can be found here

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