Cities still addressing concerns about voting in a pandemic

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 10:25 PM CDT
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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - The state’s partisan primary takes place August 11, and just like in April there are concerns about having enough poll workers and the physical distance between voters.

Back in April, Neenah used a former Shopko store with more than 90,000 square feet as the central polling place for every precinct in the city.

It worked so well, the mayor says, he gave the okay to do it again.

“People gave it the thumbs up,” Mayor Dean Kaufert said. “There was also a, ‘Dean, you should do this next time, too, if it’s available.’ So, we followed through on that and determined that with everything that’s going on around the numbers continuing to rise that we want to use that for August and November.”

Absentee voting is already underway, and while turnout in August is typically low, some races are generating interest.

For example in the 6th Congressional District three candidates on the Democratic side are vying for the chance to oppose Republican congressman Glenn Grothman.

On the Republican side, there’s an open state senate seat to replace Luther Olsen, who’s retiring.

“Just following newspapers, the media, in those locations I’m seeing the parties and the people on the ballot, they are really pushing to get people out and absentee vote. I am seeing those number a little bit higher in those hotspots,” Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg told us.

When it comes to having enough poll workers, clerks we spoke with said they don’t anticipate a shortage this time around, but the concerns are about the same as they were in April regarding safety.

In the case of the former Shopko, that was especially true.

“They heard about the great success we had, the ability to social distance out at Shopko place, and they are now willing to come back if it’s at Shopko. If it’s back in the six small locations, they’re less likely to come back; they’ve told us that,” Mayor Kaufert said.

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