Early voter turnout low for August 12 primary

Absentee voting is now underway

NEENAH - It's almost time to decide the fall primary elections in Wisconsin.

Did you know the primary is two weeks from Tuesday right in the middle of August?

Some people will take care of things early, with absentee voting now underway.

It may all seem early since the primary elections used to be in September.

This is only the second time in state history where a primary will be held in August.

The state legislature moved the primary from September to August to comply with a federal law.

It's meant to ensure ballots are delivered to military and overseas voters.

"I do think people are unaware of the upcoming election in August," said Patty Sturn.

Sturn is the city clerk for Neenah and she says so far absentee voter turnout has been low.

"I thought that we would be quite busy but it's just the opposite. We've had five yesterday and two so far today," Stern said.

The director of the state's Government Accountability Board isn't surprised by the low numbers.

"This is not what we call an exceptional year. There's nothing driving this election in the sense of hotly contested primaries at the top of the ticket and other issues. So that means we would expect turn out on the low end, probably around 15 percent," said Kevin Kennedy.

"I think that this is really a hot contested race," Stern said while pointing to a ballot.

But Neenah's city clerk says there is one race people in her area are paying attention to.

Neenah is located in Winnebago County and falls under the 6th Congressional District.

Longtime Congressman Tom Petri is retiring.

"With Petri no longer running and just the four candidates wanting that seat, everybody was interested in seeing what would happen with Petri's seat because he's been in there so long," Stern said.

Early voters will have until Friday, August 8 to cast their ballots.

"We need to narrow down the candidates to one for each party, for each office, so that we can have our slate of candidates for the November ballot," Stern said.

Stern says she hopes to see more voters within the next two weeks.

In-person absentee voters will no longer be able to vote on the weekend.

Voting times have also been limited from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Government Accountability Board says check with your local clerk's office for its regular business hours.