Update: 4:01 p.m.
“If you are in line before the polls close, you will get to vote.” – Neil Albrecht, Milwaukee Election Commission.
The latest news conference below:
Update: 3:49 p.m.
A busy afternoon at Waukesha’s only in-person polling place. Heard some mixed reactions from voters in terms of social distancing, but they say the process has been pretty efficient @620wtmj pic.twitter.com/9WL4cDueqS— Tony Bettack (@tbettack10) April 7, 2020
Update: 3:06 p.m.
“Madison and Milwaukee are very different cities in very different ways,” said Neil Albrecht of the Milwaukee Election Commission about how Madison.
“The number of COVID-19 cases…Milwaukeeans in particular our election workers were very alarmed by the increases in cases in Milwaukee, and deaths.”
“Any center that would have been short-staffed…there would have been a risk of public safety,” he added.
“Protocols are being fully followed…so I do not want to stretch resources thin.”
Watch a news conference with Albrecht with the latest.
Update: 1:08 p.m.
“We’re very upset that we are here right now.” – One voter to TMJ4 News’ Ryan Jenkins
“I’m voting for him today. The election should have been postponed.” – Another voter whose father is being tested for coronavirus.
Our coverage continues on @tmj4 !— Ryan Jenkins (@RyanJenkins_TV) April 7, 2020
Today, I spoke with voters who were upset the election wasn’t postponed & to other voters who were happy to see the day go on as planned. #coronavirus #ElectionDay #WisconsinPrimary pic.twitter.com/iWGXubHeCo
Update: 12:57 p.m.
Governor Tony Evers gave this statement about today’s presidential primary and local general election:
“Although I remain deeply concerned about the public health implications of voting in-person today, I am overwhelmed by the bravery, resilience, and heroism of those who are defending our democracy by showing up to vote, working the polls, and reporting on this election. Thank you for giving our state something to be proud of today. Please stay as safe as possible, Wisconsin.”Governor Evers
Update: 10:51 a.m.
WTMJ fan Mickey joined Steve Scaffidi and described a scene of countless voters in a blocks-long line extending far beyond Riverside High School. It was one of only five voting centers available on Election Day during the coronavirus pandemic when the city normally would have 180 centers, but so few poll workers were willing to work due to fears of contracting the virus.
“This is nuts. The line is literally around the school, back around the park,” Mickey said.
The following reports come from the Associated Press:
MILWAUKEE (AP) – The Latest on Wisconsin’s primary election (all times local):
The Wisconsin Elections Commission reported Tuesday morning that it had received no reports of polling places being unable to open as planned.
There had already been plans to consolidate polling places, especially in larger cities, due to poll workers refusing to show up due to fears of the coronavirus. Milwaukee reduced its number of polling locations from 188 to just five, and there were long lines to vote on Tuesday. One voter said she waited more than two hours to cast her ballot.
More than 2,000 Wisconsin National Guard members were ready to help staff polling places to deal with shortages.
As of Tuesday, nearly 1.3 million absentee ballots had been sent to voters across the state. But more than 408,000 still had not been returned. Only ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be counted, per a Monday order from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some voters were waiting more than two hours in lines at one of Milwaukee’s five polling places that are open for the state’s presidential primary and spring general election.
Lines were also reported at other locations across the state on Tuesday as safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were causing delays.
Voter Shannon Ochoa, from Milwaukee, said she waited more than two hours to vote at a Milwaukee high school. The line snaked around several city blocks.
In the western Wisconsin village of Holmen, voter Christopher Sullivan said he was “ashamed to be from Wisconsin today” given the voting conditions. He described police limiting the number of people who could enter the village office, a makeshift sink where he had to wash his hands and masked poll workers.
“I have voted many times in my life (and at this location) and have never experienced something so eerie,” Sullivan said. “Because it is this unsafe to vote, maybe we should have postponed the election or done mail-in ballots.”
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was wearing protective gloves, a mask and gown while volunteering at a polling place in Burlington. He said the wait time there was about 30 minutes.
Dozens of voters, many wearing masks and standing apart from one another, waited outside the South Division High School polling place in Milwaukee as the polls opened Tuesday.
A similar long line of voters waited at Waukesha’s only polling site.
Long waiting times were expected as the number of polling places was cut due to workers concerns about contracting COVID-19.
Kristin Hansen, 53, a voting rights activist, thought about working the polls when she heard there was a need, but she decided against it because she has asthma and seasonal allergies that already cause her breathing problems.
Hansen said she finds it hard to believe Wisconsin is holding in-person voting in light of the pandemic.
National Guard members are helping staff polling places because of the shortage of workers.
Polls are open across Wisconsin on a most unusual election day.
Polls will remain open on Tuesday until 8 p.m., but voters are urged to be patient and take safety precautions.
Gov. Tony Evers tried to stop in-person voting with an order Monday, but the state Supreme Court ruled it must go on. Cities have consolidated the number of polling sites due to a shortage of workers willing to interact with the public due to the coronavirus.
Thousands of poll workers said they would not work, resulting in National Guard troops being called on to fill in the gaps.
In addition to the presidential primary, thousands of local officials are on the ballot. There is also a state Supreme Court race. Results aren’t planned to be released until Monday because absentee ballots postmarked by Tuesday can still be received by then.
Wisconsin poll workers are arriving at primary voting locations around the state and some are fearful about catching and spreading the coronavirus as thousands turn out to vote despite a stay-at-home order.
A small number of voters, some wearing masks, lined up at one Milwaukee polling place before it opened Tuesday. The stood apart from one another as safety guidelines have recommended.
Rob Cronwell, 49, of Glendale, has worked the polls in the past and decided to sign up again this year knowing there would be a shortage.
Cronwell tells the Journal Sentinel he has concerns about his well-being, but considers it critical to have open, free and fair elections.
The city of Madison has made its poll workers aware of extra precautions that are being taken, including hand sanitizer, Plexiglas separations and floor marks for safe distancing.
More than 2,400 cases of coronavirus have been reported across the state as of Monday.