Chippewa County voters had plenty of opinions Tuesday night — and it showed in a surge at the polls, local clerks said.
Between 25 and 30 percent of registered voters came to Chippewa County polls Tuesday. It was more than double what clerks were expecting.
“Historically, we were planning 10 to 15 percent,” county clerk Jaclyn Sadler said. “It’s kind of exciting the numbers were so high.”
The crowded polls caused a hiccup in Anson and Lafayette townships. Paper ballots ran out in Lafayette between 2 and 3 p.m., Lafayette clerk Laura Konwinski said.
However, that didn’t stop Lafayette residents from voting. Election workers made copies of ballots, hand-tallied the votes and called in the final results, Konwinski said.
“Everyone who wanted to vote, got to vote,” Sadler said.
Turnout in Lafayette was the “highest ever,” Konwinski said: “According to people that have worked here in the past, it’s the busiest we’ve ever been. The last primary, we had 300-some (voters). This year we had just short of 1,000.
“It was crazy. We were blown away.”
Polling places had to order ballots in the beginning of June, Sadler said, and based their orders on past turnout.
“You don’t know what’s going to heat up, what’s going to happen to have voters come out,” Sadler said, referring to the number of paper ballots ordered. “It’s kind of a big ‘best guess.’”
Looking ahead to the general elections in November, Konwinski is determined Lafayette will be prepared for another surge of eager voters.
“We’re going to make sure that there’s lines to push people through better,” Konwinski said. “We would have done that anyway, if we knew the number was going to be huge. We weren’t expecting that in August.”
Both Konwinski and Sadler were enthusiastic at the sheer numbers.
Political issues are high in people’s minds, Konwinski suspects.
“They want to make sure their voice is heard,” Konwinski said. “I don’t know what’s in everybody’s minds, but according to voter turnout, it was huge.”
“We hope we see it again in November,” Sadler added.
Statewide turnout was at 22 percent of voting-age population, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Turnout statewide is the highest it’s been since 2002, when Jim Doyle won the Democratic nomination and then-Gov. Scott McCallum won the Republican vote, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
To register online to vote in Wisconsin, visit myvote.wi.gov.
Note: This story has been updated. An initial version incorrectly compared Chippewa County voter turnout, which was the percentage of registered voters, to statewide turnout, which was the percentage of the voting-age population.