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Voters fill in their ballots behind privacy screens at the O’Keeffe Middle School polling place on Election Day in Madison last November. If voting in person, voters should confirm their polling place as some may have changed since last year.

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With just a slight break in frigid temperatures expected Tuesday, voters heading to the polls for Wisconsin’s spring primary election should bundle up in their winter gear and expect pandemic precautions.  

Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl reminded voters to check their polling places before heading out in the wintry conditions. Some facilities that hosted polling locations in the past have had to back out due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We feel really bad that this happens, but it is our reality during the pandemic,” Witzel-Behl said in an email. “Because it is going to be so cold (Tuesday), we would really encourage voters to double-check their polling location by looking up their address (online) before they head out to the polls, even if they haven’t previously had their polling location change during the pandemic.” 

Those without access to the internet can call the clerk’s office at 608-266-4601 to confirm their polling location. 

It’s the first election in 2021 following the unprecedented slate of pandemic-era elections last year. Witzel-Behl said measures like social distancing, face masks for all poll workers and observers, Plexiglas screens and frequent disinfection will be in place at the polls. 

Voters are encouraged to wear masks at the polls because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

All voters will be asked to narrow the statewide race for the superintendent of public instruction, which features seven candidates. The election also features two legislative district races and 101 primaries for county, school district, city, village and town officials.   

[A voter’s guide to the seven-person race for Wisconsin state superintendent]

In Madison, three City Council districts — 9, 16 and 18 — are on the ballot in addition to one Dane County Board of Supervisors seat in District 12. Learn more about the candidates from the Cap Times’ election questionnaires: 

Cap Times Election Q&A: Madison City Council District 9

Cap Times Election Q&A: Madison City Council District 16

Cap Times Election Q&A: Madison City Council District 18

Cap Times Election Q&A: Dane County Board District 12 

The top two candidates in each race will advance to the general election April 6.

Turnout is expected to be typical of February elections, which is generally low.

As of Monday morning, 110,947 voters across the state had returned absentee ballots out of 322,788 requested, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Also, 8,735 voted early, in person.

In Madison, 11,746 voters had returned absentee ballots as of Monday morning out of 26,161 absentees issued, according to the city clerk’s office. Just 611 voters cast an absentee ballot early, in person.  

The city’s previous record for absentee ballots issued in a February primary election was last year when the city issued 9,472 absentees, including 5,203 absentees cast in person. A total of 8,057 absentee ballots were returned to be counted in that election.   

Voters still holding on to an absentee ballot should return it to their polling place. Absentee ballots must be returned on Election Day to be counted, and polls are open from 7 am. to 8 p.m. 

Voters can register to vote at the polls but must show proof of residence. Also, voters should make sure they are given the correct ballot. They can check what their ballot should look like, along with their registration, at www.myvote.wi.gov.  

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