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Election 2016: The polls are open

Poll workers assist with voter registration at the New Richmond Civic Center just after the polls opened at 7 a.m. (Raymond T. Rivard photo)

Election Day 2016 is upon us ... many are thankful that the day is here and that it will soon be over.

All the electioneering, accusations, fact-checking and gnashing of teeth is over and the electorate will finally have its say.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is predicting that a total of 3.1 million people will cast ballots today in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, General Election. That’s 69.6 percent of Wisconsin’s 2016 voting-age population of 4,449,170, according to Census estimates. Details:

An elector casts his ballot with the assistance of one of the many poll workers on duty this morning in New Richmond. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, there were a record number of voters who checked their ballots early this year, but there were still many who waited to participate in the process today.

A press release by the commission stated earlier this week: "Nearly 800,000 absentee votes have already been cast ahead of Tuesday’sGeneral Election, according to new figures released by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, shattering a record of 664,597 set in 2012.

"As of Monday morning, 797,740 returned absentee ballots had been recorded in the Commission’s WisVote system by municipal clerks for counting on Election Day.  A total of 828,248 absentee ballots have been issued, including 650,782 in-person absentee ballots cast in clerks’ offices.

"In 2012, a total of 659,444 absentee ballots were counted, compared to 639,913 absentee ballots counted in 2008.  Comparable pre-election numbers of absentee ballots cast are not available because clerks were not required to track them using the state’s system as they are now.

"Even though absentee voting has been growing in popularity, it is not necessarily an indicator of higher overall turnout, said Michael Haas, Wisconsin’s chief elections official.  “A number of factors may be contributing to this year’s higher absentee turnout, but the long term trend has been toward increasing use of absentee voting both by mail and in clerks’ offices,” Haas said. 

"Voting in clerks’ offices ended in most places on Friday and in a few cities on Saturday and Sunday, Haas said, noting that mail-in absentee ballots must be returned to clerks’ offices or polling places by Tuesday in order to be counted.