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WI voters urged to know their rights for election day

Americans at a polling booth
rawpixel.com / McKinsey /rawpixel.com - stock.adobe.com
Americans at a polling booth

Heightened political tensions have hovered over this election season. For Wisconsinites headed to the polls on Election Day, voters' rights groups say people shouldn't be deterred from participating - and having some knowledge of basic legal protections can be helpful.

In some parts of the U.S, there have been reports of armed individuals "monitoring" dropbox sites. And federal officials have warned of domestic extremism disrupting the voting process.

Debra Cronmiller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said state law makes it pretty clear what isn't allowed at a polling location.

"It's illegal to harass or intimidate anyone in a polling place in the state of Wisconsin," said Cronmiller. "So, we have rights as voters. Our poll workers are all acutely aware of this and are well trained to respond."

If you do encounter threatening or intimidating behavior, Cronmiller said immediately seek out a staff member on-site.

And the League and other groups are backing an election protection hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, which is staffed with attorneys.

While people can challenge a voter's eligibility, there are restrictions. And poll observers in Wisconsin have a long list of rules to follow to avoid instances of intimidation.

In Wisconsin, Cronmiller said they've been mainly concerned about messages posted online. It didn't disrupt any voting in April and August, and she said she hopes that's the case for Election Day.

"We and our partners have discussed many different scenarios," said Cronmiller, "and, you know, have many different responses to ensure that on Election Day, every voter is able to exercise their right to vote."

She said staying home and not voting out of fear is what extremists want, and the key message the League is sending is that Wisconsin elections remain safe and secure.

Election analysts note it will take a while for absentee ballots to be counted in cities like Milwaukee, potentially delaying some statewide results.

They explain that should not be viewed as suspicious, but as a normal part of the process.

Mike Moen is the Morning Edition producer and serves as a staff reporter for WNIJ. Every morning, he works with Dan Klefstad to bring listeners the latest Illinois news. He also works with the rest of the news staff on developing and producing in-depth stories. Mike is a Minnesota native who likes movies, history, and baseball. When most people hear his last name, they assume he is 100-percent Scandinavian. But, believe it or not, he is mostly German.
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