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What you need for voting in Tuesday’s election

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
September 13, 2010
— The fall primary election is Tuesday, and you’re thinking about voting.

The thing is, you don’t know how. Or you don’t know if you can. Or you would, except you’d rather not disclose your political party affiliation. Maybe you don’t even have a party affiliation. Should you?


Primaries. They seem so confusing.


Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said that’s one reason voter turnout for primary elections is low, compared to turnout for general elections.


Although the state predicts a 28 percent voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary, the Rock County Clerk’s Office expects a lower turnout countywide, Stottler said, with about 15 to 20 percent of registered voters likely to vote in the primary.


She said the county’s 10-year average for turnout in fall primaries is 10 to 14 percent.


“Some people don’t understand primaries, and some people just don’t find them a priority,” Stottler said. “But remember, this is your chance to pick what (party candidates) go on the November (general election) ballot.”


Stottler gave the following basics for voting in Tuesday’s primary:


-- Local voting places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. You can register to vote on the spot. You may also register absentee votes at your clerk’s office until 5 p.m. Monday.


-- If you have moved since the last election, you’ll need to register at a new voting place. To find out where, you can visit Wisconsin’s voter public access website at vpa.wi.gov, or call your municipal or county clerk’s office. If you’re registering, remember to bring a valid driver’s license or some other proof of address.


That will get you into the voting booth. Here are two crucial tips once you’re inside:


-- In this primary, voters can choose candidates from only one political party. “Crossover” voting, or voting for candidates from multiple political parties, is not allowed.


-- In each race, you may choose only one candidate.


If you fail to follow those rules, your ballot could be rejected.


Stottler put it simply:


“We say, ‘Choose a party, and stay within that party when you’re choosing individual candidates.’ That’s our mantra,” she said.


That said, you are not required to check a party preference on your ballot—although it is an option. But remember, if you don’t choose a party preference, you still must cast all of your votes within one party.


Mess that up, and none of your votes will get counted.


And one more tidbit: There are a lot of races on the ballot. But you don’t have vote in every one.


Ready to vote? Still Confused? Don’t worry. You can spoil up to three ballots and still vote. Just return the spoiled ballot to an election official and let him or her know you had a problem.


For other questions or assistance leading up to Tuesday’s primary, don’t sweat it. Just call your county or municipal clerk’s office, Stottler advised.


Good luck. Now go and vote!



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