On the ground in Madison: Recall stories from Wisconsin’s Democratic bastion

Copyright Alison Bauter

‘Madison polling spot doubles turnout’

Madison’s 53rd ward doubled May’s turnout at the polls Tuesday, as around 1,500 local voters cast their ballots in the recall election, a third of them newly registered voters.

Of those voters, poll workers said close to 500 were newly registered or changed their address in order to vote in the district.

Poll workers credited the high turnout to the popularity of the recall election, noting one woman who rearranged her work schedule to accomodate voting and another voter who made two trips home and back to ensure he had the documents needed to register.

The polling place, located in the Capitol Lakes Retirement Home, saw the typical high turnout of older residents in the area, but poll workers also noted a spike in younger, college-age voters.

“I voted because this election is really important,” said local resident Rachel Grant. “I just think Scott Walker is not good for this state.

Grant, 25, emphasized the importance of young people voting, “so we can just turn this around and finish what we started.”

Tom Bartelt, a retired teacher and a ten-year veteran poll worker, stressed the necessity of voting, period.

“I wish all elections had this turnout,” Bartelt said. “This should be the norm, not the exception.”

Copyright Alison Bauter

‘Crowds gather in Madison as polls close’

Madison - More than 1,000 people rallied at the base of the Capitol steps in Madison Tuesday after polls closed in the statewide recall race.

Those in the crowd expressed “cautious” and “nervous” optimism that their candidate, Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, could pull off a win. Many compared the growing crowd to the large pro-union demonstrations staged outside the Capitol last spring to protest the collective bargaining law that prompted the recall attempt against Gov. Scott Walker.

“I’m optimistic,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, standing on the sidewalk outside the Capitol. “If Milwaukee has the same kind of turnout Madison and Dane County had, then Tom Barrett is going to be governor.”

Madison turnout exceeded 100% of registered voters, according to Soglin.

Madison’s Solidarity Sing-a-long members, daily weekday staples at the Capitol, accompanied the crowd singing “Solidarity Forever” and other pro-union songs. One small group settled in on the Capitol lawn with blankets, picnic baskets and a pro-Barrett sign.

Some chanted, beat drums and honked car horns.

A few protesters bedecked the Capitol’s iconic “Forward” statue with a mask and signs, and attached a few of the red, heart-shaped balloons that have come to symbolize the collective bargaining protest movement for many.


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