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On Politics: Election officials say voter turnout in recall could reach 65 percent

On Politics: Election officials say voter turnout in recall could reach 65 percent

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Hope McFarlin, 8, waits with her aunt and grandmother Monday in a line of early voters at the Madison city clerk's office. The office opened on Memorial Day to accommodate heavy interest in voting before the June 5 gubernatorial recall election between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Wisconsin election officials are predicting that between 60 to 65 percent of the voting age population, or about 2.6 to 2.8 million people, will cast regular and absentee ballots in the June 5 recall election.

That level of turnout would be higher than the 49.7 percent of voters who turned out in the November 2010 gubernatorial general election, in which Gov. Scott Walker beat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his current challenger, by about five percentage points. It would not be as high as the 2008 general election for president, when some 69.2 percent of Wisconsin voters turned out to vote.

"Wisconsin has never had a statewide recall election, which makes predicting turnout difficult," said Kevin Kennedy, Government Accountability Board director and general counsel. "We typically look at history for guidance in predicting turnout."

The highest voter turnout for a gubernatorial election in the last 50 years occurred in November 1962, when 52.4 percent turned out to vote.

As of noon Tuesday, at least 130,391 absentee ballots had been issued by Wisconsin's election officials who track them using the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS). That number was 113,558 by midday Friday. Clerk’s offices in some larger cities were open for in-person absentee voting over the Memorial Day weekend.

The deadline for clerks to get a request for absentee ballots by mail is 5 p.m. Thursday. Voters who request an absentee ballot using fliers they received in the mail should double check the clerks' mailing addresses in the event of an error, Kennedy said.

Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, and must be received by the clerk by 4 p.m. the Friday after the election. All properly cast absentee ballots will be counted, regardless of how close the election is.


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