Updated at 5 p.m. Tuesday with updated figures.
Local election officials saw lines early Tuesday morning as voters showed up to take part in a historic recall election against Gov. Scott Walker.
Area polling locations were busy until the early afternoon when the voters were reduced to a small trickle. Still, it’s expected that the number of voters will steadily increase this afternoon and evening after the short lull.
Voter turnout at was at nearly 35 percent around 1:30 p.m., according to Jane Neill, election chief at the polling location. With about 100 people in line at 7 a.m., the polling location had a busy morning, including dozens – potentially hundreds – of newly registered voters at the location.
"At 6:30 we already had our first lady in line,” Neill said. “And we had a line before we opened at 7.”
Within the first hour of the polls opening at West, 306 voters had already cast ballots, which is 10 percent turnout for that location.
Neill said the line to vote stretched to the street very early in the morning, which signaled a massive turnout. She said the line wasn’t even as long that early for the 2008 presidential election.
“We could very well hit that 60 or 65 percent turnout,” Neill said.
Other polling locations had varied turnout early Tuesday afternoon:
- Hawthorne Elementary School, 4:30 p.m., 50 percent
- City Hall, 12:45 p.m., 27 percent
- Waukesha South High School, 1 p.m., 33.5 percent
- Waukesha West High School, 1:15 p.m., 35 percent
- Fire Station No. 5, 4:40 p.m., 47.6 percent
Voters are motivated for a variety of reasons. Walker, a Republican from Wauwatosa, is facing a recall election against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, because of his controversial legislation that limited collective bargaining for public employee unions. Walker defeated Barrett in the November 2010 gubernatorial election. Charles Keaton, who voted at City Hall, said he voted for the governor because he doesn’t agree with the recall election and the money being spent in the election.
“Why do it twice?” Keaton asked.
Recalls should be limited to transgressions in office – not because of policies, said Keaton.
“If that person was accused or convicted of first-degree sexual assault, then we should recall him,” Keaton said.
A woman who was with Keaton but declined to give her name was pro-union but also was against the recall election and the money being spent for the election. She also voted for Walker.
“I think he should serve his term,” the woman said, adding that the voters could have removed him from office in November 2014.
But at Waukesha Fire Station No. 5, Waukesha resident William Schultz joked that he was probably the only person to vote for Barrett at the polling location in traditionally conservative Waukesha. As a retired educator, he felt Barrett would do a better job as governor.
“I understand these are very, very difficult and challenging economic times,” said Schultz. “However, I don’t agree with Scott Walker’s position that so much should be taken from public education.”
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One voter, who didn’t want to give his name, said he wasn’t surprised at the turnout at West, saying he was more shocked that more people hadn't shown up.
“It’s a big day,” he said. “I wanted to get out and show my support for (Gov. Scott) Walker.”
At fire Station No. 5 on the city’s west side, lines to vote were beginning to stretch out the door before 9 a.m., with 380 people casting ballots by 8:30 a.m.
Despite the line at the station, Daryle and Stephanie Schultz said they didn’t have a wait to vote in their ward, which was more surprising than the number of people at the polls when they arrived.
“It’s going to be huge,” Daryle Schultz said about the turnout in the election.