A record number of absentee ballots and a visit from a national news network highlighted the election scene in Wauwatosa Tuesday.
The city became the focus of a CNN report early in the day when National Correspondent Ryan Young showed up at city hall to observe and report on the voting process. City Clerk Carla Ledesma was interviewed by Young live while many poll workers counted ballots in the common council chambers.
“We came here because of the mixed demographics of the city,” Young said. “Everybody here has been wonderful to talk to.”
Young and his crew are based in Chicago and said they wanted to visit a “purple” region to witness a good blend of voters. Past voting results have shown that Wauwatosa was a good choice to witness the mix of both Democratic and Republican voters that CNN was seeking.
Ledesma said the experience of the interview with Young was not unlike talking to the local electronic media but called it a once in a lifetime experience.
“I don’t anticipate being on CNN ever again,” Ledesma said.
Based on a random sampling, voters in Wauwatosa experienced few problems casting their ballots in Tuesday's election. Most of the wards reported that they were busy throughout the day but never had excessively long lines.
Record absentee numbers
A Wauwatosa record 10,623 ballots were cast in advance of election day in Wauwatosa via absentee ballots. City clerk requests for early voting ballots numbered 10,816 and the amount returned showed that the efforts by the city clerk’s office to send them out were not wasted.
The polls remained busy for most of the morning but according to Ledesma they were less busy later in the day. She said it is possible that the tail-off was due to the advanced voting.
Chief Inspector Dixie Szohr said there was a higher volume than usual at the 12th Ward site at Jefferson Elementary School, but the lines began to tail off as early as 10 a.m. At the 4th ward site at city hall, the lines were consistent but not long and began slow down after the noon hour.
Voters in the 16th and 17th wards were at the McKinley Elementary School location and said they thought the voting process went smoothly. Despite showing up to cast a ballot, the volatile nature of the presidential race left at least one voter there fatigued by it all.
Making a choice
“This was a long and tiring election process,” Wauwatosa resident Caitlin Moyer said. “I’m just glad that I won’t have to hear the ads anymore. It’s unfortunate to think that with all of the bright people in this country, the vote for me came down to picking the candidate that I thought was the lesser of two evils.”
At the 14th and 15th wards, voting took place at Roosevelt Elementary School, where reports also showed a smooth day. One voter there had a much different take on the reason for his choice.
“The simple fact is I had to do whatever I could to keep Trump from winning,” Tosa resident Matt Tyner said.
The lines at Jefferson were short at 4:45 p.m. when resident Brad Iding cast his ballot. When asked about the primary issues he uses to make a decision, Iding said it comes down to the content of the character of the candidates.
“I have voted in every Presidential election since 1988,” Iding said. “I went with the candidate I thought would promote a government that will protect all of the people, not just some of the people.”
Voter Nick Neldner said his decision came down to tax policy, but he was discouraged by the choices presented to him.
“I fear someone winning,” Neldner said.