DECISION 2014: Local races on the ballot in spring election

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Voters in Wisconsin are heading to the polls to decide local races in the spring election.

There's no statewide race on Tuesday's ballot, but voters will have their say about their local government and schools. Nearly 6,000 candidates are on the ballots in Wisconsin. They're running for nearly 3,800 offices. Voters across the state will collectively decide 101 local referendum questions.

The state Government Accountability Board is predicting voter turnout of 12 percent. By comparison, the election in April of last year drew 20 percent of eligible voters who decided statewide races for Supreme Court and state superintendent.

Polls were open at many places across Eau Claire, including UW-Eau Claire campus where some of the youngest voters were practicing their right to vote for the first time.

As of 6 p.m., election officials said there were around 280 students who voted. These students live on campus in wards 20 and 24.

Chancellor James Schmidt said it's important for students, especially first time voters, to practice their voting rights.

"I'm pleased there's a voting poll on our campus and I happen just to witness a couple students come up to the table say how can we register, we'd like to vote. What a great thing and music to the ears of a chancellor," said Schmidt.

Freshmen Jacob Swicichowski said he voted for the first time.

"I just thought using my first amendment right is my right given by the government, might as well use it instead of staying at home," said Swicichowski.

His friend Emily Sibilski who is also a freshmen said she liked being able to have a role in her government.

"I think it was cool to be able to have a say in what goes on in the community," said Sibilski.

Election official and alumni Aaron Brewster has been working at the polls since 7 a.m. He said turnout was busy during the lunch hour.

"I think definitely having a high level of convenience for on-campus students really helps boost turnout. There's always going to be students who are registered to vote back at their parent's house or voting absentee," said Brewster "A really pleasing number decided to really kind of be a part of the Eau Claire civic life and register to vote here."

Over at Our Savior Lutheran Church voter turnout was steady all day. The neighborhoods in ward 31 and 32 could be directly affected if the Confluence is built.

Around 715 people voted by 6:00pm. According the the Chief Polling inspectors at Our Savior hat number is around 1/3 of the registered voters they have on file.

"It started out slow in the morning. I expected more people when we opened up. But it's been steady," said Carol Cox.

Cox said the snowy weather may have deterred people from voting this morning.

One Memorial High School Senior didn't want to miss his chance to cast his first ballot.

Addison Drew said he was excited to be apart of the process. " I came out to vote to participate in democracy. I was really excited. Thinking about it all day and I'm really glad I got to vote," said Drew.

The polls close at 8pm.

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