Election Day dawned dim and drizzly Tuesday morning following the overnight lightning storm, dreary conditions for what may prove to be the most significant municipal elections this decade.
The future directions of both the Madison Common Council and Board of Education depend significantly on the outcome of today's voting, with control of both bodies at stake. The mayor's race is now closer than it once appeared, meanwhile. In the end, and as always, the outcome of today's voting will depend heavily upon turnout, on an Election Day that's both rainy and smack-dab in the middle of the UW's spring break.
Live-blogging of the election follows below. Continued updates on election results, parties, and candidate reactions are available here.
The polls are now closed.
Only ten minutes remain until the polls close. Those in line at 8 p.m. will be able to cast their ballots.
A source close to the Cieslewicz campaign tells Jason Joyce that it would be ambitious to think there will be a citywide turnout greater than 25% (meaning around 48,000 total voters). In fact, their speculation is that turnout will be marginally lower than this, with the mayor getting around 58% of the vote. This is perhaps a little bit lower than the incumbent's campaign was formerly projecting.
7:44 p.m. "The mayor just arrived at the High Noon Saloon," reports Isthmus correspondent Jason Joyce, and is holing up in what they're calling the a 'war room,' but is actually the green room for visiting bands. "It makes me wonder where The Kissers are going to hang out," he notes.
There's really nothing going on here right now, with about 50 people in attendance as TV cameras trickle in," Joyce continues. "It looks like they're setting up for a high-school dance."
7:36 p.m. "I did GOTV on Monday," notes Madison school board candidate Marj Passman "and today I sent thank you notes out to all the people who have worked with me, invited them to Fyfe's, and spent time with my children." She is facing Maya Cole in what is probably the most closely fought campaign in the city.
7:30 p.m. Only thirty minutes remain until the polls close and the votes get tallied.
7:22 p.m. Here's a closer view of the "Dump Mayor Dave" dump trunk parked in front of the Villa Tap, as photographed by Luke Pacholski:
WIBA-AM is buzzing with accusations and acrimony over the campaign sign controversy brewing between Fitchburg mayoral candidates Tom Clauder and Jeff Nytes. Their brief report on the matter can be found here, with more details available below.
"Joann, Art and other regular poll watchers greeted me as I entering the polling room at 5:55 p.m.," reports Isthmus employee Bob Ansheles, who cast his vote at Huegel Elementary School on the southwest side of Madison. He was voter #269 at the polling place, which remained quiet with only two other voters present at the time.
"It's slightly misty, and at 5:45 p.m. the polls at Olbrich Gardens have about 20-25 well-mannered, quiet people in line," reports Isthmus employee Kathy Bailey, who notes that the procession moved quickly.
She also observed two campaign signs for Ray Allen in a house that's adjacent to the parking lot for the polling place. "One, on the side yard, is visible to autos and pedestrians coming and going into that particular entrance (one of two entrances)," she notes. "I think to myself: Is that legal? I know you have to be a certain number of feet away from the polling place, and maybe they are. But still, as it is on the edge of the parking lot, I wondered."
North side resident and District 12 primary candidate Michael Basford sends the following photo taken outside of the Villa Tap on Packers Avenue:
The placing and misplacing of campaign yard signs always commands interest as an election approaches, particularly when one side accuses another of behaving inappropriately with regards to them. These kinds of shenanigans have certainly not stopped even though it's Election Day.
Thomas Mertz, a supporter of Beth Moss and Marj Passman for the Madison school board, notes that campaign yard signs for their opponents (Rick Thomas and Maya Cole) were placed in the medians of Midvale and University avenues, and were subsequently removed by police. That's mild, though, compared to the scene in Fitchburg.
Accusations and counteraccusations are flying in the Madison suburb as incumbent mayor Tom Clauder -- favored for reelection -- says he caught Jessica Nytes removing one of his campaign signs. She is the wife of his challenger, Jeff Nytes. Clauder says he subsequently followed started following her, an action which resulted in a call to the Fitchburg police.
"Jessica Nytes was not tearing out yard signs throughout the city," says Terry Carpenter, the campaign manager for the challenger. "She removed one illegally placed yard sign from the grass across from city hall, and started getting followed by a man in a white pickup truck," she continues. "He turned out to be the current mayor." Carpenter says Nytes was frightened by the truck and therefore called the police.
Dane County Clerk Bob Ohlsen reports that as of 4 p.m., turnout in the City of Madison was at 20.35%.
Madison school board incumbent Johnny Winston, Jr., who is favored to win election to a second term, notes that he particularly appreciates a vote from one of the city's newer residents. "My grandfather, who is a Hurricane Katrina victim, lives in Madison now," Winston says. "This was the first time he voted in 40 years."
Meg McGrorty, manager for the mayor's reelection bit, reports that the Cieslewicz campaign is making last-minute phone calls and conducing "knock-and-drags" GOTV efforts in various neighborhoods where turnout has been low so far. "We'll be doing that until 8 p.m.," she notes, at which point they'll decamp to the High Noon Saloon for their post-election party.
A reader mailed in with a question about how long the polls remain open. All polls close at 8 p.m., so there are less than four hours remaining in the day to vote.
Madison artist and performer Angela Richardson voted at the Tenney Park Apartments (Ward 37 of District 2) at around 2:20 p.m., casting her ballot as voter #357 there. Like many others, she reports that poll workers outnumbered voters, six to two in this case. "When we got there they were busy examining some absentee ballots received and lamenting the fact that since some of the ballot envelopes were not signed by both the voter and a witness, those votes cannot be counted."
Richardson also notes that the poll workers are estimating turnout is about 20% at the site. "The building smelled bad as usual," she concludes, "but this Tenney Lapham resident for one did not let stink stop her from voting!"
3:13 p.m. Dane County Clerk Bob Ohlsen reports that as of 11:00 a.m., turnout in the City of Madison was around 9%. He expects another update sometime shortly before 5 p.m. How are things running? "We haven't heard of any problems," Ohlsen says, "so we assume everything is running smoothly."
There is much, much, much more local blogging about this spring's cycle of elections, compiled for your perusal in Madison Miscellany.
Both Ray Allen and Dave Cieslewicz made sure to offer some final remarks online about their mayoral campaigns.
Cieslewicz struck first on Monday morning, when he made a GOTV pitch for his supporters, urging them not to become complacent on Election Day. "We've worked hard, and I believe we've won the debate over whether we should continue to move forward or go back to the politics of division and gridlock," the incumbent contends.
"But my opponent is also out there working hard, and I believe the race is a lot closer than the pundits and experts think it is," Cieslewicz concludes. "So, we'll keep working hard until the very last minute, and we hope to celebrate when the race is over."
Allen, who does not publish a campaign blog, turned to the friendly waters at "Letters in Bottles," a small group and mostly-political blog tended by recent UW graduates Brad Vogel and Steve Schwerbel. "I'm running for Mayor because I want Madison to be a city of hope and opportunity for all its citizens," begins Allen, "but since this blog is a Mecca for young thinkers, I wanted to address major concerns for the under 30 crowd."
The mayoral challenger subsequently shares his thoughts on three major themes; participation of students and other young persons in city government, jobs and economic development, and finally, his message about Madison's role as an entertainment hub. "I will work to make Madison a destination point for visitors as well as musical acts," Allen concludes. "If you run a straight line between Chicago and Minneapolis, Madison is on it so the city should be encouraging musical acts on tour to stop in Madison."
Both candidates are clearly seeking to woo the city's oft-bandied "creative class" demographic.
There are many more polling place times and numbers being reported on TDPF.
One voter at the Marquette/O'Keefe polling place on the near east side was voter #535 at around 11:30 a.m. this morning. Like others she also notes the paucity of lines and larger number of volunteers than voters.
"I love voting," the correspondent offers, "seeing folks from the neighborhood walking into the polling place." She notes "all the friendly vounteers" and the "great feeling" of having a "small say in local politics" as a female, racial/ethnic minority grad student in her 30s."
"I was voter #96 at Mendota School on Madison's north side at about 9:20 a.m.," reports Isthmus writer Linda Falkenstein. "There were only a couple of other voters."
She estimates that this number is 30 or so lower than that during the primary on Feb. 20, depsite voting at about the same time of the morning, and despite the fairly competitive aldermanic race for District 18 between Michael Schumacher and Jon Becker. Falkenstein also notes that Paul Van Rooy, the outgoing alder for the district and campaign treasurer for Schumacher, was one of the poll workers.
"Nothing exciting happened," she concludes, excepting a "pretty tasty cupcake" procured from the bake sale there.
Here's an election preview from well outside Madison, provided by Isthmus employee Thom Jones. "I have to get back to Lake Mills before dark so I can find the small brick undistinguished building that is supposed to be the town hall for the Town of Lake Mills," he reports, "not to be confused with the City of Lake Mills proper with polling in a completely different place."
"Luckily," Jones continues, "I looked over the sample ballot provided by Jefferson County and it looks like most of the positions up for election are populated by the incumbents who are running unopposed. That should either make my choices easy or allow me to guiltlessly not select a candidate at all due to insufficient information."What's the biggest reason to vote then in this situation, he asks? There are two: "The Lake Mills School District referendum question #1 to spend $22 milion for necessary school updates and expansions and referendum question #2 to exceed state capped expenditures by $600,000."
Recent Isthmus editorial intern and contributor Ben Broeren provides his "boring, cordial voting experience" at the Lowell Center on Langdon Street next to the UW campus.
He explains: "At around 10:50 a.m., the Lowell Center was pretty quiet. Only one other voter was there besides myself, though a few trickled in after me. The three election staff and their supervisor looked bored as hell, with one calling out: 'Yeah, I recognize you from February...' A silver-haired lady handed me my ballot and deadpanned, 'You know what to do...'"
"The choices were pretty easy," he continues. "Since my alder, Brenda Konkel, ran unopposed, I wrote in a fellow student journalist and District 2 dweller. He recently wrote a column in the State Journal on the need for a decent downtown grocery store. 'Now there's an idea,' I thought. The mayoral decision took some time: should I vote manager #1 or manager #2?"
Broeren was voter number 71 at the polling place, a tally that includes absentee ballots.
Two more voters from Isthmus report their place at the polls this morning. Karen Darcy was voter number 86 in the Wil-Mar Center on the near east side around 9:15 a.m. "Not very exciting," she notes, "but I was in and out in under 5 minutes!" David Miller, meanwhile, was #72 in La Follette High School at 8:35 a.m., and reports the poll workers seemed pleased wtih that turnout.
Isthmus employee Jason Joyce reports his voting experience: "It was a handful of senior citizens and me voting at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on the corner of Raymond Rd. and Whitney Way just after 9:00 a.m. this morning. I was voter number 142, an indication of either the competitive city council race in the district (Gary Poulson vs. Thuy Pham-Remmele) or the early-rising nature of its elder inhabitants."
More candidates are firming up their plans for their post-Election Day parties. The locations of these gatherings of hopefuls are provided here.
I was voter #27 just after 9:00 a.m. this morning at the downtown campus of MATC, the polling place for Ward 41 in District 4. Located in an atrium facing the old Central High School arch on Wisconsin Avenue, the booths were completely devoid of voters other than myself, though a team of five poll volunteers kept busy keeping things organized. Based on this single point of evidence, it looks like downtown and student-area turnout will be fairly low aside from those who have already cast absentee ballots.