Derek Woellner —
Early voting is underway in Wisconsin and April 5 is expected to bring record results.
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) is expecting 40% of the eligible voters in Wisconsin to cast a ballot for this election. They cite the media-favorite Donald Trump and the hotly contested democratic race as the catalysts for bringing new voters to the polls.
Earlier this year, the GAB slightly overestimated turnout for the February election when they announced it would be around 10%. Turnout for the February election was just under 8%.
If the prediction for April 5 holds true, it will be the largest turnout for a presidential primary since 1980, when the turnout was about 45%. The winners of those primaries were Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.
Early voting, also called in-person absentee voting, will continue at the Menomonie Government Center until Friday, April 1.
What’s on the ballot
As voters head to the polls, they can expect to make three major decisions.
The first decision will be who they would like to see as the U.S. President. Three separate boxes for the presidential selection will appear on the ballot. In the first box, voters will need to choose which party they will be choosing a candidate for. In the other two boxes, one holds the Republican candidates and the other the Democrats. Voters can only choose one candidate, and the candidate must be from the same party that was chosen in the first box.
The second decision is to choose a Justice for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The two candidates are JoAnne Kloppenburg and Rebecca Bradley. Both campaigns have been under fire lately, one for historical ignorance and the other for hate speech.
Kloppenburg has received a lot of backlash for saying Abraham Lincoln owned slaves. Kloppenburg made the comment during a debate, as she attempted to explain that even our most respected leaders had their faults. She has since acknowledged the mistake, saying, “I don’t remember what I was thinking.” Kloppenburg has also said that the confusion may have come from the fact that Lincoln’s wife’s family owned slaves.
Bradley has so far managed better at remaining historically accurate during her campaign, but the heat came when her writings in a college newspaper were revealed. The writings, which she wrote as a senior in college 24 years ago, would likely be considered hate speech on a campus today. In the writings she called gay people “queers” and “degenerates”. She also said that gays that die from AIDS, “deservedly receive none of my sympathy.” Bradley has released an apology for the things she said, in one part saying, “To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview.”
The third major decision will have a more local impact. There are two candidates running to be mayor of Menomonie. In this much anticipated re-match, the current mayor, Randy Knaack, will be facing the current Ward 11 alderman, Andrew Mercil.