Election takes on a new look

Masked poll workers, spacing rules and glass greet village, town voters

POLL WORKERS AT Belgium Village Hall (top photo) on Tuesday wore masks and sat behind Plexiglas shields made by village employees. They included (from left) Annie Noster, Jan Huber and Ruth Kleinschmidt. At Town Hall (bottom photo), voters waited outside six feet apart, as designated by tape, since only one voter was allowed in the building at one time. Photos by Mitch Maersch
Ozaukee Press Staff

Tuesday’s general election will be one to remember, but not because of who is running.

While voting ran smoothly and overall participation wasn’t far off from other elections, the nature of voting was different.

On Monday, the State Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ order issued earlier in the day to delay the election to June 9 due to the coronavirus.

Clerks had already made pleas for poll workers since many volunteers dropped out for fear of catching the virus.

In the Village of Belgium, Public Works Department employees stood outside Village Hall to ensure the six-foot social distancing rule was being followed. Inside, large Plexiglas shields built by village employees shielded poll workers who were decked out in masks.

The village had 713 people vote, but only 209 showed up to do it in person.

In absentee voting, 504 ballots were returned of 544 issued, Clerk Julie Lesar said.

Voters, Lesar said, cooperated with the adjusted procedures and thanked the staff.

“I could not have conducted this election without the help of all the village staff and relentless election inspectors that agreed to work this election,” she said.

“Their resiliency to the day-to-day changes that occurred is greatly appreciated.”

In the last presidential primary four years ago, 807 village residents voted.

At Town Hall, clerk Ginger Murphy and a poll worker, both in masks, used the glass doors to the board room as shields. They opened a door a crack to hand ballots to voters, who filled them out and inserted them into the machine in the lobby.

One voter at a time was allowed in the building. Red tape on the ground showed voters where to stand outside, six feet apart.

The town had 487 votes cast. Of those, 264 were absentee and 162 voters came to the polls.

A hailstorm that struck the area barely missed Belgium, keeping voters dry as they waited outside.

Since Town Hall is in a former bank, Murphy used the drive-through to collect absentee ballots last week.

Town Chairman Tom Winker said his wife suggested using the drive-through, and the Town Board on Monday raved about it.

“I thought it went exceptional,” Winker said.

Election results will be tallied on Monday.

The Village Board has four people running for three seats. Incumbents Clem Gottsacker and Don Gotcher, along with newcomers Sarah Heisler and Howie Manos are running.

In the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District, incumbent Nancy Niebauer is challenged by Gail Kowalkowski for the Ozaukee County seat. Incumbent Aileen Dahlke is challenged by Phil Burns for the Sheboygan County seat. Voters, regardless of where they live, could vote for both seats.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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