The City of Sun Prairie will have one polling place at Sun Prairie High School for the Tuesday, Aug. 11 primary, thanks to action taken during a special July 10 meeting of the Sun Prairie City Council.
Alders voted 7-0 during the 11-minute meeting to approve an ordinance consolidating the city’s eight polling places into one for the partisan fall primary despite written comments against consolidation, two in favor, and others from individuals pledging to assist the city by working at the polls.
City Clerk Elena Hilby said in a memo to the council that she was concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic that there may not be a sufficient number of poll workers to staff eight polling stations for the partisan primary which will feature just one contest between Andrew McKinney and Melissa Sargent for the District 16 Senate seat.
“I fully support this move,” wrote Sun Prairie resident Mark Brehmer. “I encourage the city to work with the school district to do the same in November. Considering the recent courtesies shown the district regarding site plans, public streets, and impact fees, I would hope, given nearly four months notice, a plan could be developed collaboratively.”
“I support the move. The April election went very well due to the actions of the clerk,” wrote city resident Bill Dunlop. “It is my opinion that the election held at the high school can be done successfully. The city should publicize absentee balloting and organizations willing to provide transportation for those in need as part of the notice of the change.”
“Keep multiple voting locations. It would be a bad situation if people have to stand in line at one location,” wrote Sun Prairie resident Thomas McConnell. “People will wonder who their local officials are who allowed this.”
“If polling places are going to be consolidated into one, there needs to be more advocacy to receive absentee ballots to reduce the number of people at one location,” wrote city resident Caitlin Schmidt. “I would also like to volunteer to help at the polls, to make this easier.”
“I adamantly oppose consolidating eight polling places into one! This will cause people to stand in long lines, long wait time, traffic issues, and would be impossible to practice social distancing if that is still required. Inclement weather could also cause people to stay home. This will do nothing but discourage people especially the elderly from voting due to an obvious long wait time. This is a horrible idea. I would suggest putting the word out throughout Sun Prairie for more poll worker volunteers. I would volunteer, myself to be a poll worker,” wrote city resident Anne Cutsinger.
Hilby emphasized that in-person absentee balloting will be available at the Sun Prairie Public Library, 1350 Linnerud Drive; and the Sun Prairie Municipal Building, 300 E Main St., for the Aug 11 primary.
And, Hilby said, the city will facilitate drive-up, in-vehicle curbside voting for the primary at the high school, located at 888 Grove St., in addition to in-person opportunities for voters to cast their ballots.
Hilby said the clerk’s office also encourages city voters to vote absentee if possible.
Voters can request an absentee ballot be mailed to them using MyVote.WI.Gov. Once a request is received in the clerk’s office, a ballot is mailed out within 24 hours. Completed absentee ballots can be mailed or dropped off to the City Clerk’s office, which is located on the first floor of the Sun Prairie Municipal Building at 300 E. Main St. The deadline to return an absentee ballot is 8 p.m. on Election Day, Aug. 11.
Some alders praised the idea of consolidating to one polling place for the Aug. 11 primary, and encouraged the city to be thinking about possible solutions for the November presidential election.
District 4 Alder Al Guyant said with only one Democratic contested race for State Senate that there will probably just a three to four percent turnout. “So this is a really good decision to go down to one polling place,” he added.
Four polling places in November?
Hilby said she believed COVID-19 will still be widespread in November, and plans to propose to the council that the city consider staffing four polling places — instead of eight — for the November election. She said she plans to come to a council meeting in August or September to finalize November polling location planning.
The city is also seeking poll workers for upcoming elections; interested residents may apply online at https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/SunPrairieWI or by sending an email to Voting@cityofsunprairie.com.