Western Kenosha County seeing elevated absentee/early voting

Western Kenosha County is part of the trend toward increased use of absentee voting, either through mailing in a ballot or voting early in-person.

We contacted the municipal clerks in Bristol, Salem Lakes, Twin Lakes, Paddock Lake, Randall, Wheatland, Paris and Brighton. The clerks that responded all said use of absentee voting is above the 2016 presidential election.

Interest in presidential election is always high, officials say, and in this year of COVID-19 and its need for social distancing people are availing themselves of options besides voting at the polls on election day.

Here is absentee voting data we received as of earlier this week.

  • Bristol — As of Monday, 1,390 absentee ballots had been returned and 616 had voted early in-person. Registered voters: 3,554.
  • Paddock Lake — As of Monday, 392 absentee ballots and 270 in-person early. Registered voters: 1,876.
  • Wheatland — As of Monday, 441 absentee ballots. Registered voters: 2247.
  • Randall — As of Tuesday, 808 absentee. Registered voters 2,273.
  • Brighton — As of Thursday, 410 absentee ballots. Registered voters: 1,030.

Besides mailed in or dropped off absentee ballots, there is also the option to vote early in-person.

“We have had considerably more this election,” Paddock Lake village Clerk Michelle Shramek said of in-person early voting this election.

In-person early voting — in which voters fill out an absentee ballot at the polling location — opened Oct. 20 and closes Oct. 30. Wheatland town Clerk Sheila Siegler thought there would be more use of the system in her town this year.

“I expected we would have more in-person absentee voting the first week,” Siegler said. “I’m hoping this second week will bring more voters as it gets closer to November 3rd.”

In Randall, absentee votes are approaching doubling the number from 2016, said Clerk Callie Rucker. And the town is seeing about 100 early in-person votes per day.

When mailed and dropped off absentee ballots and early in-person voting is combined almost 50 percent of Brighton’s 1,030 registered voters have voted this year, said town Clerk Linda Perona. In 2016, just 173 people requested absentee ballots in the fall partisan election that included the presidential race.

Paddock Lake village Clerk Michelle Shramek urged people who still have possession of absentee ballots to not delay in returning them.

“If they have a ballot that was mailed to them, the ballot they received is considered a live ballot and they should return the ballot by dropping it off at the village hall or mail it back before 8 p.m. on Election Day,” Shramek said.

In the end, elections are just another aspect of normal life that might be a little different this year.

“With Covid, we have to space out and it cuts down on how many can be in the building to vote at one time,’ said Siegler. “Normally, even presidential elections haven’t had a long wait (in Wheatland).  But this is not a normal year in any respect.”


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