Primary Election Day: Huge absentee vote in Wisconsin 🗳️

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Voters head to the polls Tuesday, Aug. 11, for the Wisconsin Partisan Primary Election. Milwaukee election officials are taking precautions to make sure there won't be long lines at polling places like there were in April. 

Six-hundred new polling workers have been trained in the last month, and many are younger. 

Election officials say voter turnout is low as expected as more people are opting for absentee voting. So far, 48,000 ballots have been returned and typically it's around 7,500 in Milwaukee for an August primary.

"We're seeing a huge increase in preference for mail-in voting," said Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg, "we're also seeing an increase in voter participation."

Curbside voting is an option, but if you go inside they encourage you to wear a mask. Workers will wear face masks and shields, and there will be Plexiglas between workers and voters.

"Cruised in and out today," said Chuck Harvey.  Harvey says he was expecting a bigger line. "Not many people in there, so it made it easy," he said. 

Officials say they expect up to 200,000 absentee ballots returned in the November election.

"Our biggest challenge is having enough machines to keep pace," said Woodall-Vogg, "We already arranged to have a minimum of 8 machines, we're hoping for 10, I've asked for 13.

Election officials say if you haven't mailed in your absentee ballot, you can vote in-person or there are two other options to make sure your vote counts. 

"We actually instruct our voters in their instructions on Election Day they should either return their ballot to our office here at City Hall in room #501 or to our warehouse where central count normally takes place which is 1901 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue and they have until 8 p.m. to do so,” Woodall-Vogg said.

In April, there were long lines because there were only five polling places open in Milwaukee. Tuesday, there is 168 polling places to avoid crowds.

"What we found is that it’s better not to have a congested voting location. Instead, having as many as possible so that lines, we shouldn’t have any lines tomorrow but if we do they’ll be short. We also found that our election workers were more comfortable interacting with maybe several hundred voters in a day instead of several thousand like at a voting center," said Woodall-Vogg. 

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