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Absentee Voting Heavy So Far in Fox Point, Bayside

Village officials say it is strange to see such a high percentage of votes turned in before voters can even get an absentee ballot in person.

With little more than three weeks before the Nov. 6 election, both Fox Point and Bayside are seeing an unusually high number of requests for absentee ballots.  Three percent of voters in Fox Point, and 2.3 percent in Bayside, have already cast ballots, with many more out.

"I was shocked to hear that we had that," Bayside Village Manager Andy Pederson said. "Usually we don't have that much traffic. To have that amount of people coming in already, is just very surprising to us."

Voters have been able to physically go to their village clerk and fill out a form requesting an absentee ballot be mailed to them. However, starting on Monday, regular absentee voting begins and voters can pick up their ballot in person. Pederson said usually there just aren't this many people voting so early because most just wait to get their absentee ballot in person. To date, of the 3,440 registered voters in Bayside, 2.3 percent have already turned in their ballots. 

"They can come in and request an absentee ballot but we have to mail it to them," Pederson said. "We've processed 190 absentee ballot requests for the Nov. 6 election and 63 percent of them have already been returned."

In an effort to help accommodate the large number of voters Bayside is anticipating, Village Hall will be open until 6 p.m. Oct. 29 through Nov. 1, and until 5 p.m. on Nov. 2, the final day to vote absentee. 

There are 5,236 registered voters in Fox Point and 3 percent of voters have cast their ballot already. Village Clerk Tanya O'Malley said an additional 195 ballots have been issued but not yet returned. 

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Reid Magney with the Government Accountability Board said the in-person early voting window has been compressed into a two-week period this year, which may be the reason for such a quick number of votes cast. 

"We have a compressed two-week period of time for early voting in the clerks office, whereas, in previous years, it may have started three or more weeks before the election," Magney said. Absentee ballots were available sooner this year than in previous years as well, he said. 

Approximately 110,000 absentee ballots have been requested so far in municipalities that use the Statewide Voter Registration System, Magney said. But of the 1,851 municipalities, only 830 use the system, he said. So this can only offer a small slice of a statewide visual on voter turnout.  

"In 2008, there were 633,000 absentee ballots cast and we estimate that about 65 percent of those were cast in the clerk's office," Magney said. "So, that's one benchmark, but this early in the process before in-person absentee voting has started yet, it's hard to tell anything."

For information on polling places, voter ID laws and candidate profile pages, check out Patch's Election Guide 2012. 

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