High voter turnout for February primary election

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 6:43 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The upcoming primary election is on February 21. The main focus on this ballot is the Wisconsin Supreme Court race and the effects those results could have on the state.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is currently split 4-3 with a conservative majority. With Justice Patience Roggensack retiring from the court, the newly-elected justice will decide whether the court will continue to lean conservative, or if it will switch to a liberal majority.

Four judges are running to replace Justice Roggensack’s seat. Jennifer Dorow and Daniel Kelly are considered conservative candidates. Everett Mitchell and Janet Protasiewic are considered liberal candidates.

The Eau Claire City Clerk Nicholas Koerner said this election has seen a higher turnout than in years past.

“This election has been busier than we anticipated, busier than a usual February election,” Koerner said. “We’ve had over 400 in-person absentee voters and over 1,500 people have returned their absentee ballots already.”

Koerner said he thinks the higher turnout has to do with the effects this race could have in the state. WEAU political analyst John Frank said there are a few reasons there is so much interest in this election.

“There are a number of issues that are coming up, including the validity of the 1849 abortion law, also what could happen with the perceived gerrymandering, that case has been back and forth,” Frank said. “So, this could have a lot of consequences for some very emotionally charged political issues in the state.”

But Frank said this election could also hint at what to expect in 2024.

“Wisconsin is a purple state, and being a purple state it has both in the 2016 and 2020 elections been won by just a few thousand votes,” Franks said. “As a result, people are kind of looking at this as kind of a precursor to the 2024 election and what might happen in Wisconsin politically, partisan politically in 2024.”

Koerner said he expects this high voter turnout to continue.

“I think we’re expecting to have much more voters than we have in previous February elections. I guess around 8,000 to 10,000 which for a February election is quite a bit in the city.”

Eau Claire community members have until Friday, February 17 at 4:00 p.m. to vote in-person absentee. On February 21, polls are open in Wisconsin from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.