Join Waukesha resident Brien Lee and his blog, Sir Fido, as they explore the city and report on the interesting things they find.
Email Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday was one for the books and not just because there was a rare Transit of Venus that day. Though it'll be 2117 the next time Venus crosses the sun, some say we'd probably be dead then. Now if we weren't that would be historic.
It's not often that a worldwide radio broadcast, the BBC, reports on Wisconsin elections. A marketwatcher friend even mentioned to me that it looked like the Wisconsin election affected worldwide stock markets.
It's not often that we get a visit at our Waukesha District 8 polling location from a team from the U.S. Department of Justice or an observer from the ACLU. It's certainly not often we have a long line of voters most of the day at one of our two wards.
A couple other things I noticed. One college student surprised us by returning with proper ID for new registration after leaving. She mentioned her student ID was 1-1/2 hours away and the college office was closed for getting a copy of her current one. College students aren't known for having lots of spending money, but she spent $5.00 at the student union or somewhere for a replacement. Was even more surprised when another student in similar circumstances paid $15.00 for her replacement card just to vote. Why the price difference I don't know.
It was at times difficult assuring everyone eligible to vote could, and I probably called City Hall 30 times with questions. As many written rules we have there's always exceptions. What about the person who has no permanent address, but not considered homeless? 28 consecutive days of residency, with proof, isn't always that easy to provide. Many of our college students live off campus and don't have bills in their name or license with a Waukesha address.
I recall assisting a legally blind woman with voting in the primary, but in Tuesday's election it was brought to light that she had moved from one ward to another in the same district and needed to fill out a new registration form. If she had just told us she had intent to someday return to the old address she could've kept voting in the old ward forever, but she said was wasn't going back.
She didn't have the proper proof of residency with her. The blind woman gets around on an electric motor scooter, but just barely. She sometimes loses her way. Wasn't even sure she could find the correct proof we were looking for at her home. She did make it back though, and with the correct proof!
We registered 200 new voters, name or address changes Tuesday. 1538 people voted the 8th District in person Tuesday, (plus more absentee at City Hall) compared to just 900 in the primary. There were lots of stories of the lengths electors went to to vote. How about waiting at the back end of an hour and a half line? People came out to vote who hadn't visited the polls in many, many years. We saw just a few people upset with the requirements, wait, run-around, or process, but some of those who left frustrated did indeed come back with the proper proof or just returned when lines were shorter.
There were a few times when electors leaving the long line for some reason were graciously allowed back. I'm appreciative of how well and polite everyone all day behaved. A mother with two young rambunctious children was allowed skips, and I felt it was up to me to ask for it. I didn't want to lose her as a voter and it looked like she wasn't going to vote if she had an hour wait in line with her boys. Another person had but 5 minutes to fill out a change of address and vote before needing to leave for work. I don't know why she didn't come earlier, maybe didn't think we'd be busy? But we skipped her in line because we didn't want to lose her.
Mid day we realized we were off a number in one of the wards, but had not one minute when they weren't busy to check. Finally found a total of three errors in the books by 11:30 at night. There are ways of finding clerical mistakes so I knew we'd do it, just a matter of time, but it surely helped to have a retired CPA helping us.
When I finally returned to City Hall with the ballots and books all doors were locked. I saw no one in the office through the window. Now what? Leave them secured in the trunk of the Toyota? I didn't think that would fly. Finally saw someone through one of the windows and got a look like "who the heck are you and why are you loitering around City Hall after midnight?" Tom Neill to the rescue! He opened the door for me.
"Am I really the last one to return ballots?"
"Hey, did you know the doors lock automatically at midnight?" he asks Gina.
I have nothing but great things to say about the whole experience Tuesday. I felt the location worked well, the city responded to my many phone calls. No problems with machines. Had more than enough ballots. Everyone behaved. Everyone eligible to vote had the opportunity. We had enough poll workers and our numbers agreed at the end of the night.
I admire and respect the four workers we had who stayed the whole 18 hour day, as busy as we were at the books, maintaining pretty accurate records and pleasantly greeting everyone. Of all I appreciate, they are the ones I appreciate the most.