Press Conference

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, left, and City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said they expect record-breaking turnout for Tuesday's election.

Madison is on track to set a voter turnout record Tuesday for spring elections without a presidential primary, city officials said, based on early-voting numbers.

Nearly 5,500 absentee ballots have been received with three full days left for in-person early voting, City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said.

The April 2011 mayoral election currently holds the record for highest turnout with 54 percent of voters casting ballots, Witzel-Behl said. This year, the Clerk’s Office has ordered enough ballots for up to 75 percent of voters heading to the polls even though there are no City Council or mayoral elections for the city.

“People in Madison are voting just because there’s an election,” not just because of the types of positions in that election, Witzel-Behl said.

A total of nearly 9,000 absentee ballots were counted in last April’s election, Witzel-Behl said. As of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, 7,035 had been issued for this election and will be counted so long as they are received by Tuesday.

“Traditionally, this is the lowest type of spring election turnout we would anticipate,” Mayor Paul Soglin said. “Now we’re beginning to see numbers that rival some of those elections like when it’s just the City Council with no mayoral or presidential primary.”

The number of ballots to order is generally based on historical turnout, but recent years have seen continual increases in voter turnout for each type of election, Witzel-Behl said. Officials decided to order enough for 75 percent turnout because it is in the range between a regular high-turnout election of this type and a presidential or gubernatorial election.

Witzel-Behl said voters with absentee ballots should put them in the mail soon since it may take a few days for the ballots to arrive at the Clerk’s Office. Ballots received after Tuesday will not be counted.

Madison residents without a valid ID still have time to get one from the Division of Motor Vehicles before voting, Witzel-Behl said, and votes can be cast provisionally so long as an ID is shown at the Clerk’s Office by April 6. If an ID is not produced, that provisional vote will not be included in the final tally.

Witzel-Behl also said the address listed on the ID does not need to be current, so long as proof of address is provided at the polling place.

Voters can register and vote early in-person through Friday, and pre-registered voters can also vote on Saturday. Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and voters can also register on that day.

For a list of early voting locations and hours, visit go.madison.com/voteabsentee.

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.