By Al Stanek
Whitewater Banner volunteer staff
Preliminary vote totals indicate that roughly 43% of ballots cast in the City of Whitewater were cast by absentee ballot Tuesday April 6. Although not as big of a percentage as recorded in the November General Election or the Spring 2020 Presidential Primary, the lack of a major national or statewide contest made for what one long-time poll worker described as “one of the slowest elections that I have ever worked.”
Whitewater City Clerk Michele Smith’s preliminary numbers indicate that 551 of the 1272 votes cast Tuesday in the City of Whitewater were by absentee ballot. That comes close to confirming the observation by the same poll worker that nearly as many people voted by absentee as in person.
The estimated 43% absentee voting percentage compares with what a November 2020 ‘WI State Journal’ article reported as “nearly 60% absentee voting statewide” in November and roughly 75% in the Spring Presidential Primary last year. Early reports from the WI Election Commission indicate that absentee voting was in the range of roughly 30% of all votes cast statewide for this Spring election.
The decline in absentee ballots as a percentage of total ballots cast since last Spring may indicate that relatively successful COVID-19 vaccination efforts may have given many older voters greater confidence in voting in person. Although no age information is gathered at polling places, anecdotal observations by poll workers indicate a large percentage of voters generally appear to be in the 50+ age category.
Voting in Ward 5, which generally includes a larger than normal number of UW-W students, was especially low with only a preliminary total of 125 votes cast and only 2 votes separating the two candidates. Incumbent Greg Majkrzak (pronounced “my shock”) received 62 votes to challenger Neil Hicks’ 60 votes with three write-ins.
Other notable observations from Tuesday’s Whitewater election results are the fact that three of the four open Common Council seats were filled by women and the total number of female members of the seven-member 2021 Whitewater Common Council will increase from two to three as Lisa Dawsey Smith will be joining incumbents Brienne Brown and Carol McCormick who both ran unopposed. Also notable is that for the first time in 14 years the Whitewater Common Council will not include long-time Council Member and past Common Council President Patrick Singer who chose not to run for re-election to spend more time with his young family.