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Spotlight on safety for upcoming partisan primary

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 3:57 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - For the third time this year Wisconsin voters will cast ballots, but this will be the second time an election is being held during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eau Claire Clerk Carrie Reipl says a typical August primary brings out about 6,000 voters in the city.

This time, however, she says more than 6,000 absentee ballots have already been sent out.

Even with many voters choosing to mail in ballots, the city is still working to ensure casting a ballot in-person next Tuesday will be a safe process.

“We will have social distancing in place so there will be marks on the floor every six feet to make sure people are doing the social distancing,” Riepl says.

“There are sneeze guards in place at every table that the voter will go to,” says Chief Inspector for the Lake Street polling site Mary Hanson

Riepl says if you go to your polling site for next Tuesday's partisan primary, there will be one noticeable difference from the spring election back in April.

“All of our poll workers will be wearing masks,” she says. “We are encouraging people if they are able, to wear a mask when they are in the poll site as well.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has advised local clerks that wearing a mask isn't required for voters at the polls, but Hanson still advocates their use.

“We just think it would be the best safest thing to do,” she says. “I think the city’s gone above and beyond to try and make sure the process is safer for both the voters and our staff.”

If you feel uncomfortable going to the polls, there are other options in Eau Claire for casting your ballot.

“The drive-thru for city of Eau Claire residents will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through this Friday,” Riepl says.

“We can do a curbside vote on Tuesday at the election site, they just need to come in and let us know,” Hanson says.

Four additional months into the COVID-19 outbreak has given poll workers more time to prepare.

Hanson says, with that, the process will be much smoother than it was back in April.

“I really think it is going to be a smooth process,” she says.

If you want an absentee ballot for next week's partisan primary, you can still request one.

That deadline is this Thursday at 5 p.m. And you can make that request online.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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