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Primary election flows smoothly in La Crosse

Kaitlyn Riley

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While reports across Wisconsin claimed thousands of voters were forced to congregate for hours outside of polling places Tuesday with no protective gear, that was not the case for voters in La Crosse.

The number of voters ebbed and flowed throughout the day, but Jim Jenks, chief inspector for the elections, said, for the most part, the process flowed smoothly between voters and poll workers.

There were only a few cases of voters showing up to the incorrect polling places because the city reduced the number open.

“Everyone has been very reasonable about it,” Jenks said.

Jenks said there had been lower voter turnout, especially with the three La Crosse college campuses closed because of COVID-19.

“That made a big difference, and I think there’s some uncertainty perhaps about when the news came out,” Jenks said referring to the back-and-forth decision of whether or not to postpone the election Monday. “But people have been even bringing their absentee ballots in today to make sure they get them in.”

Voter McKenna Schmidt said she followed the news closely Monday to know whether or not she would be voting in person this week.

“I double-checked to make sure it was still on just because I think it is really important to exercise your right to vote whether it be through a pandemic or not,” Schmidt said.

Polling places in the City of La Crosse had hand washing stations outside the buildings for people to use before entering. Additionally, there were hand sanitizer stations. Plexiglass separated poll workers from voters at the tables and those who worked directly with people were given masks. The pens used to mark votes were one-time-use only and sent home with voters.

Schmidt said she felt as if the poll workers took the necessary precautions in La Crosse to ensure a safe environment.

“It is important to make sure that you stay healthy, but also just as important to exercise your right to vote,” Schmidt said. Official primary results will be released Monday afternoon.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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