Madison had already seen nearly 80 percent turnout of registered voters by early afternoon.
According to the 2 p.m. update from the city clerk’s office, 29,601 people had voted at the polls. That’s in addition to the 121,210 Madison voters who had been reporting as returning their absentee ballots as of this morning’s update from the Elections Commission.
Combined, that equals 78.9 percent of the city’s 191,140 registered voters, according to the state Elections Commission’s last update on Sunday. The state issues registered voter counts on the first of each month.
In 2012, WEC numbers show Madison reaching a turnout of 78.2 percent, nearly 4 percentage points higher than the 74.4 percent who turned out in 2016.
The state Department of Administration estimated earlier this year the voting age population in Madison is 215,196.
Polling places in downtown Madison were largely line-free after nearly 2 million Wisconsinites voted early.
Voters said it took less than 10 minutes to cast their ballots at the Orpheum Theater, Dane County’s Ward 49 polling place. There were no lines there this morning except the short, alphabetized ones used to organize voters once they enter the polling location.
Campbell Callam, a UW-Madison sophomore, said it took 5 minutes to vote this afternoon at Hillel, Ward 47’s polling place.
“It’s a civic duty,” Callam said of why he voted today.
Megan Novotny, a UW-Madison freshman and Black woman, agreed. Voting gives her a voice, Novotny explained while sporting a “Badgers Vote” mask.
“I didn’t want to complain about who the next president is without voting,” Novotny said. “At least I feel like I have a chance to change something.”
While UW-Madison students already seem motivated to cast their ballots, local organizations are taking the time to speak with young voters until the polls close.
Vote Mob, a youth vote group, stationed a booth around the corner from the Hillel polling location on Election Day, encouraging college students to vote and handing out free merchandise. Though Vote Mob is not affiliated with candidates for public office, they describe themselves as a “progressive youth vote effort.”
“We’re really focused on pushing out the youth vote for this election,” said Caroline Haberland-Ervin, Vote Mob campus lead and UW-Madison junior.
Planned Parenthood arranged a pop-up tent in Library Mall, between UW-Madison’s Memorial Union and the University Club, two downtown polling places. The organization is confident that young voters are showing up to the polls based on their Election Day conversations with college-age passersby, said volunteer Emma Mortensen.
Young people also took to the streets on their own account. Alec Nygard, a former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer, held up a “Honk if you voted” sign with two friends on the corner of North Frances St. and University Ave. while sporting a Biden-Harris T-shirt. Nygard, 24, campaigned for Biden after he won the Democratic primary. Casting his ballot in Madison today took about 5 minutes, Nygard said.