Municipal clerks across the county have been doing brisk business as voters take advantage of the opportunity to cast a ballot before Election Day Nov. 8.

La Crosse City Hall has seen a steady stream of visitors for the past two weeks, with 3,587 people turning in in-person absentee ballots as of Friday afternoon. In the first week, 1,874 La Crosse residents voted and that number is rising, according to city clerk Teri Lehrke.

“I think we’ll beat the first week in the second week, and I expect next week will be the busiest yet,” Lehrke said.

Absentee voting, both in-person and by mail, has been going well and lines have been largely just a few people deep when they exist at all.

“It’s a pretty smooth process. They check in and then they move to the next station,” she said.

Onalaska City Clerk Cari Burmaster was pleased to note her team has helped 2,716 voters in the first two weeks.

“We have been busy to say the least,” she said. “The first day of absentee voting was actually our busiest.

Onalaska had 327 people cast ballots Oct. 17 and has averaged about 225 to 250 per day since. About 23 percent of its registered voters had voted early as of Thursday evening.

“People like to take advantage of the ease of doing it too. They find it more convenient,” Burmaster said.

Her numbers are higher this year than 2012, but she’s not surprised.

“Compared to last time, we expanded another week. We’ve had more time,” Burmaster said.

Despite it being the first presidential election requiring voter ID, the clerks say there haven’t been many problems.

“Some people ask if they need it. If they’re having problems, we do have the handouts that we got from the Wisconsin Elections Commission,” Burmaster said. “They’ve been willing to take it and contact them to see what they need to do to get it.”

Lehrke encouraged people with questions to either stop at city hall or visit bringit.wi.gov for more information.

“I don’t think there have been any problems that we haven’t been able to handle,” Lehrke said. “It seems like most people are coming prepared, and if they’re not prepared, at this point, they still have time to get their ID.”

Even with her expectation of more people next week, Lehrke said she doesn’t expect any long waits.

“We’ve had a lot of compliments on how efficient it is and how quick the process is,” she said. “If people do have difficulty standing for long period of time, they might want to consider this as an option next week.”

Even if people don’t want to vote early, Burmaster encouraged non-registered citizens to stop before Nov. 8.

“If you’re not registered, still come in the office and register. It’s easier here than at the polls,” Burmaster said.

To register, citizens will need proof of residency — such as a pay stub, lease agreement or utility bill — and photo identification.

ID is also necessary to vote, with accepted identification including a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, military ID, U.S. passport, a federally recognized Indian tribe ID card or a student photo ID from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse or Western Technical College. Student IDs must be accompanied by a separate document that proves enrollment, and Viterbo University ID cards are not accepted.

For those getting in at the last minute, ID card receipts issued by the DOT will also be accepted. A full list is available at bringi.wi.gov. Sample ballots are a poll site locator are available at myvote.wi.gov.

“We’ve had a lot of compliments on how efficient it is and how quick the process is. If people do have difficulty standing for a long period of time, they might want to consider this as an option next week.” Teri Lehrke, La Crosse city clerk
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Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

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