Early voting numbers have skyrocketed around the nation in these final days before the 2008 presidential election, in large part due to concerted efforts by the Obama campaign to alleviate long waits at polling places on Election Day. These trends are no different in Madison, where tens of thousands of absentee ballots have been issued and early votes cast, as well as around Wisconsin, with turnout already blasting through initial projections.
Given the high levels of participation and interest in casting early ballots, Madison mayoral communications director Rachel Strauch-Nelson has started issuing a series of updates detailing turnout figures, voting instructions, and other election preparations. Here is the first update from the clerk's office:
Just yesterday, 1,017 people voted at the City Clerks office. So far, 10,367 people have voted absentee in the City Clerk's Office and 23,609 absentee ballots have been issued (and these numbers are growing by the minute...). For comparison, in 2004, a total of 25,258 absentee ballots were issued.
Deadlines for Absentee Ballots by Mail
To receive an absentee ballot by mail, the City Clerk's office must receive a voter's application by this Thursday, October 29. Voters may request an absentee ballot by mail by submitting a written request with their name, Madison address, address to which the ballot should be mailed and signature. Or, voters can request an absentee ballot online by visiting the City Clerk's website: http://www.cityofmadison.com/election/absenteeVoting/absenteeRequest.cfm.
Poll Workers for Election Day
Madison's polls will be fully staffed on Election Day. We're happy to report that all 1850 slots for poll workers have been filled for next Tuesday. Every poll worker will have attended a poll worker training before working at the polls. Trainings are being offered for new poll workers, experienced poll workers and chief inspectors by the City Clerk.
Other Volunteers Still Needed
In addition to poll workers, the City Clerk's office is also coordinating a new Quality Assurance Team for Election Day. The Clerk's Office is still looking for eligible voters in the City of Madison who would be willing to volunteer a couple hours on Election Day. Members of the Quality Assurance Team will be trained and sworn in as Election Officials. They will assist in processing the absentee ballots at the polling places on Election Day, as they time how long it takes for voters to get through the check-in line. If the line becomes long, they will call the Clerk's Office for additional staff. Throughout Election Day, the Quality Assurance Team will also verify that the number of voter slips handed out equals the number of ballots fed through the tabulator. Anyone interested in volunteering may sign up at www.cityofmadison.com/election.
Early Voting Hours
Early or absentee voting hours are still being held through next Monday, November 3 at the City County Building.
- 8:00a.m. to 7:00p.m. Monday through Thursday
- 8:00a.m. to 4:30p.m. Friday
- 8:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. Saturday
Strauch-Nelson will be continuing these updates up to Election Day, next Tuesday, November 4. The next major early voting event in Madison will be on Saturday, when a "Concert for Change" featuring members of Wilco along with Sen. Russ Feingold and Rep. Tammy Baldwin will be held at the Wisconsin Union Theatre in an effort to boost turnout for Obama amongst UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff.