A lack of volunteers to changing rules; clerks in rural Wisconsin share election challenges
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - On August 9th, voters across Wisconsin will take to polling locations to cast ballots, and in the days leading up to the election, clerks and volunteers across the state prepare to collect votes. Challenges ranging from fewer volunteers to rule changes will meet clerks in rural Wisconsin along the way to the primary election.
“I would say this is probably a state-wide trend,” said Dodgeville Clerk Lauree Aulik. “I’ve had to do more training; I’ve had to have a couple of poll workers step up to be chiefs.”
She says the trend of fewer volunteers working at polling places over the past two years is bleeding into the coming election. As in prior years, concerns over COVID are one of the main contributors keeping older polling workers away. In other counties, new rules are clashing with small-town familiarity.
“Here in Green County, we have small municipalities, so you know all your neighbors in your township,” said Green County Clerk Arianna Voegeli.
At the beginning of July, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that most ballot boxes are not legal, and a person can not submit another voter’s ballot in person.
“If you have a clerk that is bringing his and his wife’s ballot in, and the clerk has to say, ‘I can’t accept your wife’s ballot; she has to bring that in herself,’ and she’s like, ‘well I know that’s Joe and Mary they live three houses down from me, why can’t I accept this ballot,’” said Voegeli.
Aulik and Voegeli say training staff and volunteers is vital for every election and will help navigate either issue. Each is confident people working at polling places will be ready to assist voters with any question and are prepared for all the ballots headed their way Tuesday. Aulik says another key will be public education, communicating what people need to know before voting via government websites or social media.
“We did some good social media, a couple of blasts with social media; we made sure to try and educate people,” said Voegeli.
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