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Voters cast their ballots in Spring Local and Presidential Primary Elections

District 3 polling location in Merrill at the Merrill Enrichment Center
Hannah Davis-Reid
District 3 polling location in Merrill at the Merrill Enrichment Center

Yesterday, spring local and presidential primary elections were held around Wisconsin.

On April 2nd, voters trickled steadily in and out of the Merrill City Hall, their local polling place.

It’s the Spring Local and Presidential Primary Election and I stationed myself outside the voting area, waiting to speak to people who pass by.

Regardless of their political position, some voters expressed similar high levels of anxiety about the state of the country.

Gary Pool is a Merrill resident.

He voted for former President Donald Trump in the presidential primary and said that the border and economy were some of his biggest concerns.

“Joe Biden, I don’t know. If you look at what he did and where the country is today, he put us right in the basement. The government needs to be straightened out,” he said.

Marlene was another firm supporter of Trump.

“I voted for Trump because I think that Biden has destroyed our country,” she said.

Bill Wolf is a Merrill resident who said he votes in almost every election.

He selected President Joe Biden in the presidential primary.

“Democracy is my priority. I'm fearful about, frankly, Trump and the people that back him up,” said Wolf.

Another voter explained her support for Biden.

“There's no way I could ever support a man who instigated an insurrection as Trump did,” said one woman.

Numerous voters said that they were disappointed by the options in the primary elections.

“It seems to be cut and dried. Why is there a primary anyway? I'm disappointed, the way it's progressing. And it just seems like some of the others who might, I feel, be better leaders for our country right now, don't stand a chance at this point,” said one voter.

In Lincoln County, voters used new electronic voting machines, called ExpressVotes.

This is Kyle Gulke, an Election Inspector for Lincoln County.

“Our new voting machines, ExpressVote voting machines, have been pretty popular and successful. Definitely help with the disabled and the elderly to be able to vote,” said Gulke.

Beyond the primary, voters also cast their ballots on the state referendum questions regarding private funds and election officials.

Gulke remarked that numerous people had trouble with the wording of these questions.

“I think it's a little bit confusing for some people,” he said.

Supporters of the state referendum questions said they felt very strongly that it was important to not let people outside of government be involved in elections.

Others disagreed, dismissing the questions altogether.

“I think they're a solution in search of a problem.”

Local elections were, for some, a stronger motivator than the presidential primaries.

“My main reason for coming today wasn't the presidential, because I figured that was probably out of our hands. But I feel very strongly about the County Board, Lincoln County Board and Merrill City Council,” said one voter.

Another voter said that they were interested in the County Board races due to the sale of the previously county-ran Pine Crest Nursing Home.

“I'm very upset that the county board voted the way they did,” she said.

In Merrill, voters had a school referendum question for the Merrill Area Public School District.

Those who supported the referendum often referred back to their personal experiences with the district.

“I have always been a strong advocate for education. If the building, if they feel it's necessary, I support it,” said one voter.

However, not everyone was willing to increase funding.

“No, because they've already got enough funds, they don't need to do it,” said Gary Pool.

Lori Anderson-Malm, Merrill City Clerk, confirmed that more people requested absentee ballots this year than in previous years.

Wisconsin’s next primary election will be in August to decide the candidates for parties in races like the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as State Senate and Assembly Districts.

The Presidential Election is Tuesday, November 5th.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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