When polls close, voting hours

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Wisconsin holds its presidential primary and spring election today, where all voters in the state will select their preferences for president and weigh in on two referendum questions.

And, depending on where you live, you’ll also see a host of races for local offices like mayor, county executive, city council and school board on your ballot. Many communities are also holding referendums for school and public safety funding.

The Journal Sentinel will be posting live updates throughout the day while Wisconsinites head to the polls and as results come in tonight. Refresh your browser for the latest.

Polls close in Wisconsin at 8 p.m., and clerks will begin reporting the results of the races and referendums shortly after. 

In Wisconsin, as long as you’re in line at your polling place by 8 p.m., you will be allowed to vote. 

Severe winter weather has impacted voters heading to the polls later in the day. In Dane County, where Madison is located, emergency management officials asked people to avoid traveling Tuesday night.

Hope Karnopp

Voting turnout seemed steady at Mukwonago Village Hall despite the rainy weather. About 10 to 11 minutes before 3 p.m., chief inspector David Schultz said to a reporter that 1,700 to 1,800 people had voted since the polls opened this morning. He said the election turnout this year “feels busier than it has been in past years.” Later Tuesday, a follow up phone call to Village of Mukwonago clerk-treasurer Diana Dykstra updated that total to about 2,145 people as of 5 p.m., including absentee ballots, out of 5,320 registered voters.

“The only issue we’ve had is that since it’s a presidential preference, we’ve had people that have voted in both Democratic and Republican. They have an opportunity to redo a ballot if they need to,” Schultz said.

Schultz said the village has been using a machine called a “ballot printer” to take ballots. It works by inserting a blank ballot into a touchscreen electronic machine and voting.

“When they’re done, they get an opportunity to go through and make sure is this all correct. So there’s a lot of back and forth, some dialogue to make sure you know what you’re doing. Then you can say yep I’m good and you hit print. And that way, it eliminates any errors because it forces you once you’ve selected a party, then it will only present those candidates to you,” said Schultz.

When asked by a reporter if the “ballot printer” machines were also an option for voters along with traditional paper ballots, Dykstra confirmed that too.

One of the major items on Mukwonago ballots was a $102.3 million facilities referendum for the Mukwonago Area School District. If approved, the referendum would fund the building of a new sixth through eighth grade middle school, renovate the district’s elementary schools to create space for four-year-old kindergarten, and reconfigure pickup and dropoff areas at Big Bend Elementary School. Sixth graders would be moved from the elementary schools to the new middle school.

One of those residents, Ann Selkie, voted yes to the referendum.

“The elementary schools are currently getting pretty packed, no room for 4K. Previously we’ve been subbing it out to the daycare and stuff. I do think having the sixth graders with the seventh and eighth graders is a better situation for all involved,” Selkie said.

Resident Doug Michalski voted no to the referendum. He had voted in favor of a previous district referendum in 2016 that funded remodeling, renovations and improvements to Mukwonago High School.

“Not this time for the junior high just because I think everybody is pinched too much these days. Not to say I would never vote for it at some point, but things need to be straightened out as far as our taxes and everything just seems to be too expensive these days,” Michalski said.

–Alec Johnson

GREEN BAY – Wisconsin first delivered the presidency to Donald Trump eight years ago and on Tuesday the former Republican president returned to the critical battleground state to pitch himself as a solution for the U.S. southern border while continuing to promote false claims about Wisconsin’s elections.

Trump arrived in Green Bay during a classic upper Midwest spring snowstorm for his first Wisconsin stop of the 2024 presidential election cycle. There, he argued he would level more strength at the border to a crowd gathered in a downtown convention center that was the site of his first rally in Green Bay in 2016.

“This is the worst president in the history of our country,” Trump said of rival Joe Biden. “Joe Biden is not respected. Joe Biden is not feared.”

Here are takeaways from Trump’s visit to Green Bay:

–Molly Beck

Polling places on the city’s East Side reported decent turnout despite the weather. 

At the Maryland Avenue Montessori School, poll workers directed voters to deposit their umbrellas into a box before asking for their address and directing them to the right table. Chief inspector Sue Clement reported no issues. More than 400 voters had cast their ballots by 5:30 p.m.

Just before the 5 p.m. after-work rush began, 252 voters had cast their ballots at the Milwaukee Public  Library’s east side branch. The longest line in the day up to that point was eight people long.

“It’s been steady all day,” chief inspector Emma Horjus said. “It’s busier than I expected with the rain.”

Jesse Lynch was among the voters casting his ballot there. A regular voter, he said no particular issue brought him to the polls, although he researched the MPS referendum ahead of time before deciding to support the $252 million ask. 

“I’m generally a fan of getting a budget into the public school system,” he said.

–Kelly Meyerhofer

GREEN BAY – Cold wind and sleet did not deter northeastern Wisconsin Trump supporters from lining up Tuesday afternoon outside the KI Convention Center.

The former president is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. Tuesday in downtown Green Bay in what would be his eighth visit to Green Bay and his first in four years.

The line for the Trump rally stretched up into the Main Street parking ramp, where Tami Sankey of Neenah and her boyfriend, Dusty Schroeder, wore matching black Aaron Jones Green Bay Packers jerseys.

“People don’t understand how good things are, and how much better they could be if Trump is elected,” Sankey said, later adding that the housing market and general economy are major issues to her.

Trump’s rally also brought comedian and “The Daily Show” contributor Jordan Klepper to Green Bay. During election seasons, Klepper often travels to Trump or Republican candidates’ events to conduct humorous person-on-the-street interviews with event attendees.

Klepper was spotted inside the Main Street parking ramp as crowds lined up before the doors opened at 2 p.m.

— Jeff Bollier

The Justice Department has announced it’s monitoring today’s election in the city of Milwaukee to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws.

The department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot, according to a statement Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

The Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section enforces the civil provisions of federal statutes that protect the right to vote, including the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, the Civil Rights Acts and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

It often sends staff to monitor for compliance with the federal civil rights laws in elections in communities all across the country. The division also deploys federal observers.

More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Justice Department’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/voting-section.

Complaints about possible violations can be submitted through the Civil Rights Division’s website or by phone at 1-800-253-3931.

— Chris Ramirez

When Milwaukee voters look at their April general election ballot, they won’t see the name of embattled City Attorney Tearman Spencer. Instead, they will find “T. Spencer.” His yard signs and mailer encourage people to “re-elect Spencer.”

His opponent, state Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), accused the incumbent of trying to get voters to conflate him with longtime city Treasurer Spencer Coggs, a member of one of the city’s most powerful political families.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Goyke said. “I believe he is trying to cause ballot confusion with Spencer Coggs.”

Despite being the highest-profile race in Milwaukee, both candidates have maintained a low profile. Neither have appeared on TV or radio, and their social media accounts have been mainly inactive.

Spencer has all but disappeared from the public eye so far this year.

But Goyke said the race doesn’t seem so quiet to him.

“It’s an interesting office to run for,” said Goyke, who has served in the Assembly since 2013. “Half of what you have to do as a candidate for city attorney is explain what the city attorney does, and then the other half is to explain why you’re the right candidate for the job.

“That is door to door, that is at community events, through media, and then the kind of traditional mechanics of a campaign. … I don’t feel quiet because I’ve been working.”

— Daniel Bice, Alison Dirr

Ducking out of the rain at James Madison Academic Campus, Ricky Bridges said he’s been a consistent voter since he was 18, rain or shine. 

“As a Black man, people died for us to get the right to vote, so I think it’s my duty to do that, and I try to be an example to my niece and nephew, my daughter, so they see that it’s important,” he said.

The most important vote on the ballot for Bridges was the MPS referendum. He graduated from a MPS school, Washington High. 

“They’ve mistreated Milwaukee Public Schools for so many years and they haven’t given it a chance,” Bridges said. “They say the scores are low but that’s because they’re not investing the right amount of money into it. We shouldn’t have to ship our kids to other municipalities for them to get a good education.”

Inside the polling place, chief inspectors Gregory Dorsey and Lionel McAllister said turnout has been higher than expected. 

“It’s way busier today than I thought it would be,” Dorsey said. 

Asked why he thought turnout was high, Dorsey said the MPS referendum is likely a driver. 

“There’s money on the ballot; it hits your pocket,” he said.

— Rory Linnane

If you haven’t registered to vote in Tuesday’s election, Wisconsin allows you to register at the polls on Election Day. You also can re-register if you’ve changed addresses since the last time you voted or haven’t voted in the last four years.

In either case, you’ll need to bring a document to show proof of residence.

A driver’s license or ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles counts as proof of residence if it shows your current address. Or, you can bring documents like a lease, utility bill or bank statement that has your new address. The Wisconsin Election Commission has a full list of accepted documents here.

You can present proof of registration electronically, such as showing a file or photo on your phone.

To vote, you need to bring a current photo ID that has your name on it. The Wisconsin Election Commission website also has a list of accepted forms of identification.

— Hope Karnopp

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Instagram has a political content limit. Here’s how you can remove it.

Instagram added a political content limit to all user accounts. The change means that you might not see posts related to politics or social issues.

Some voters might notice a less frequent trickle of political content on their Instagram feeds. That’s because of a new political content limit that was automatically added to Instagram user accounts in March.

In February, Meta announced its decision to no longer prioritize and recommend political content to users. The posts that fall under this category include in-feed posts, reels, accounts and explore page recommendations related to things like laws, elections or social topics.

“If you decide to follow accounts that post political content, we don’t want to get between you and their posts, but we also don’t want to proactively recommend political content from accounts you don’t follow,” Meta wrote in a February statement.

Here’s how to remove Instagram’s political content limit on your account:

  1. Log onto Instagram and go to your profile page.
  2. Go to your account settings, located at the top right of the profile page where you see three straight lines.
  3. Search “Content Preferences”
  4. Click “Political Content”
  5. Select “Don’t limit political content from people you don’t follow”

— Tamia Fowlkes

GREEN BAY – Former President Donald Trump returns to Wisconsin on Tuesday, making Green Bay the first Wisconsin stop of the 2024 presidential cycle. 

He will hold a rally at 5 p.m. in downtown Green Bay after stopping first in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Trump is holding the events in two critical battlegrounds he won in 2016 but lost four years later.

— Molly Beck

Voter turnout was moderate and steady Tuesday morning at Parkside School, election officials said, with 116 votes cast as of 10:45 a.m. 

Two voters who spoke to the Journal Sentinel said their top issue was the MPS referendum.

Dennis Rageth said he opposed the property tax increase that would come with the referendum, which he said for him would be $300 a year.

“I live on a fixed income,” Rageth said. “I pay enough. 

James Zarate said he supported the referendum. His children attend an MPS school, Fernwood Montessori. 

“It’s important to me to support the referendum for schools to get more money,” he said, adding that he hopes to see “continued improvement for schools and outcomes for the kids.”

— Rory Linnane

The Milwaukee Election Commission fielded complaints Tuesday morning about volunteers from Wisconsin Vote Uninstructed placing signs promoting the campaign in front of three polling locations.

Claire Woodall, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Election Commission told the Journal Sentinel that the Election Commission contacted the District Attorney’s office about the complaints. According to Wisconsin election rules, people may not engage in electioneering during polling hours on any public property on election day within 100 feet of an entrance to a building containing a polling place.

Rufus King High School was one of the sites where signs were placed. The Milwaukee Police Department sent officers to measure the distance between the polling site and the signs, and Woodall confirmed that the distance was less than 100 ft. Ohio Playground and 53rd St. School polling places also had complaints about signs, according to the Milwaukee Elections Commision.

Since being notified of voter concerns, the District Attorney’s office has contacted the Wisconsin Vote Uninstructed and informed them that they cannot place signs on public property.

— Tamia Fowlkes

At South Division High School, chief inspector Freddie Franklin said it’s a particularly slow day, even for a polling place that has traditionally had low turnout in his 15 years as chief. 

The site had just three voters as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. 

Franklin said he thought the heavy rain was likely a factor. He also said that while he’s seen a lot of marketing about the election, he hasn’t seen a lot in Spanish. 

“My guess is that the word isn’t hitting the community,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s necessarily resonating with the Latin group that lives on this side of town. And when I go out and kind of peruse the community, you don’t see a lot of the yard signs, things like that.” 

Franklin also serves as a special voting deputy to help people vote at residential facilities, where he has witnessed the influence of advertising. 

“A couple people said to me, well, I heard him talking on TV, so I want to vote for him,” Franklin said. “I think that speaks to the power of getting the word out and its impact, right or wrong.”

One voter outside South Division, who didn’t give his name, said he came out to vote in the rain because of the “school vote,” though he didn’t say why. Milwaukeeans today are voting on a referendum that would raise property taxes to increase funding for Milwaukee Public Schools.

— Rory Linnane

The Green Bay National Weather Service is expecting snow to begin midafternoon and reach its peak on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

Snow accumulations are expected for over a foot in Sturgeon Bay, between 10 and 11 inches in Appleton and Green Bay, and around 4.5 inches to the west in Marshfield and Wausau. With those higher totals, the office has issued a winter storm warning for a segment of northeast and central Wisconsin, upgrading from an earlier winter weather advisory.

Initial snowfall projections for Milwaukee showed around five inches of snow, however, the forecast now predicts up to two inches of snow as the weather system moves west.

Another major factor in the new forecast is the expected temperatures of the day keeping the storm’s precipitation mostly rain in the area, he said. Areas near Waukesha and the Timmerman Airport have the highest chances of receiving slight accumulation totals.

The first thing you’ll see on the ballot is a choice whether to vote in the presidential primary for the Democratic party or the Republican party.

Biden and Trump are the only candidates still running, though you could vote for other names that remain on the ballot. Choosing “uninstructed delegation” or writing in a name is also an option.

After that, you’ll see two referendum questions that ask about private grants for elections and the roles of election officials. A “yes” vote is supported by Republicans and conservative groups, while Democrats and liberal groups support voting “no.” Those questions are worded as follows:

QUESTION 1: “Use of private funds in election administration. Shall section 7 (1) of article III of the constitution be created to provide that private donations and grants may not be applied for, accepted, expended, or used in connection with the conduct of any primary, election, or referendum?”

QUESTION 2: “Election officials. Shall section 7 (2) of article III of the constitution be created to provide that only election officials designated by law may perform tasks in the conduct of primaries, elections, and referendums?”

More: Wisconsin’s April 2 referendum questions and the ‘Zuckerbucks’ debate, explained

The rest of the races on your ballot depend on where you live. Many school districts in the Milwaukee suburbs have referendums on the ballot, and several North Shore suburbs also have public safety referendums.

Here’s a full list of races on the ballot in the Milwaukee area, which include offices like mayor, city council, county boards and school boards. And here are voters guides for the Green Bay and Appleton areas.

And remember that you can preview your ballot ahead of time at myvote.wi.gov.

Polls open in Wisconsin at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. As long as you’re in line by 8 p.m., you will be allowed to vote.

You can find your polling place by entering your address into “Find my Polling Place” on myvote.wi.gov. On that website, you can also check ahead of time to see what’s on your ballot and see if you’re already registered to vote.

To vote, you need to bring a current photo ID that has your name on it. Here’s the Wisconsin Election Commission’s list of accepted forms of identification.

You also can register to vote at your polling place, or re-register if you’ve changed addresses since the last time you voted or haven’t voted in the last four years. In that case, you’ll need to bring a document to show proof of residence.

A driver’s license or ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles counts as proof as residence, if it shows your current address. Or, you can bring documents like a lease, utility bill or bank statement that has your new address. You can find a full list of accepted documents here.

Local clerks must receive your ballot by the time polls close today, so it’s too late to mail it back. Instead, you can physically bring your absentee ballot to your assigned polling place or central count location before the polls close at 8 p.m.

In Milwaukee, you can drop off your absentee ballot at the Central Count Processing Center at 1901 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Curbside drop-off is also available.


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