From outright tension to mere bickering: Wisconsin polling places were calmer Tuesday than they were four years ago. Government Accountability Board chair Kevin Kennedy believes that new rules made polling places less contentious than in 2004. "We had people pushing the envelope," said Kennedy, recalling the situtation four years ago. "In 2004, you had outright tension between the political parties, where there were arguments in the polling places, and we had to have law enforcement mediate them. It was a contentious atsmosphere."
Kennedy characterizes this year's atmosphere at polling places as more one of "petty bickering," with lots of questions about what observers were and were not allowed to do, such as handing out voter registration forms — and food. "Those are not big issues, but that was pushing what we thought we had laid out in the rules," Kennedy said, adding that he and other GAB staff attorneys told observers that if they wanted to had out registration forms, they should have signed up to be poll workers.
No surprise, Kennedy said the number one voter question GAB staff fielded on Tuesday was "where do I vote?" Kennedy said Wednesday he expects Wisconsin voter turnout to be just under 3 million, or roughly 70 percent of the population. The presidential races in 2000 and 2004 had higher voter turnouts, according to Kennedy, because the races were more highly contested in the state.