John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

Election Day!

Yesterday was Election Day here in Wisconsin, and as usual I spent the day working as the chief election inspector for City of Madison Wards 18 and 21. As I mentioned last month, I was looking forward to this election because it was the first in which we would get to use the new tabulators recently purchased by the city, and it was just as exciting as I hoped it would be. The setup was quick and painless, the results tape printed out much faster, and the large display meant I could check the voter tally from across the room instead of having to walk over there.

That's not to say all our equipment was flawless:

That's not even what the real 49-star flag looked like!

I was anticipating a pretty slow day -- I'd been told at the chief inspector's training on Saturday that while the clerk's office was prepared for a 25% turnout, they were expecting 12-15% based on the return rate for the absentee ballots they'd mailed out -- but my ward turned out to be rather busy for a non-partisan election with very few contested races on the ballot. I don't want to oversell how busy we were, because objectively the numbers don't look that big -- we had 334 voters come through our doors, with an average turnout of 17.38% -- but we ran out of our initial allotment of ballots for Ward 21, so I feel justified in called it a busy day.

I attribute the larger-than-expected turnout to pot. Dane County had a referendum on the ballot: "Should the state government enact legislation legalizing marijuana?" (Fun fact: I sold the county supervisor who sponsored the bill calling for the referendum a sandwich this afternoon.) Madison is a pretty hemp-friendly place, so it makes sense that voters would take time off from chowing down on Doritos and staring at their hands to vote in favor of its legalization. Unfortunately for them, it was entirely non-binding, and since the state legislature is pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, they're probably not going to pay much attention to what Dane County wants.

As for me, I voted against it, and the candidate I backed in the one contested School Board race lost too, so it wasn't a great day at the polls for me, politically speaking. (That said, I'm perfectly satisfied with the winner of the School Board race. I think they were both strong candidates, no pun intended.) I did win up on the winning side of the one other contested race on my ballot, a non-binding advisory referendum on establishing a non-partisan commission to handle Congressional redistricting. That's got even less of a chance of being taken up by the legislature, given the extraordinary lengths they went to make the last redistricting process as partisan as possible. (The GOP legislative caucus hired a law firm to do the work so they could refuse to make any of the details of the process public, even to Democratic members of the legislature, by claiming attorney-client privilege.)

Now it's a long 19 weeks to the next election, the partisan primary for state offices and Congressional seats in August. Assuming there is one, that is. In Madison,the non-partisan primary in February was canceled for lack of candidates, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that the same thing could happen in August. There's no Senate race; the Congressional and state assembly seats representing Madison are safely Democratic, so there may not be a huge number of people clamoring for the opportunity to be a sacrificial lamb; and the candidates for Governor are already all but decided upon by the party apparatus. I don't know, maybe there'll be a bunch of Democrats wanting to run for lieutenant governor. Stranger things have happened, probably.
Tags: elections, politics, wisconsin: madison

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