Even with challenges in place, early drive-thru voting still possible in Wausau

The city of Wausau is working closely with Eau Claire to learn the logistics of drive-thru voting.
The city of Wausau is working closely with Eau Claire to learn the logistics of drive-thru voting.(WEAU)
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 9:27 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - City Clerk Leslie Kremer and the city of Wausau’s Safe Elections Task Force haven’t given up on the idea of offering early drive-thru voting for this Fall’s presidential election, but some obstacles still need to be maneuvered.

“Based on statutes, if you were to change the location for early voting for absentees, you would have had to establish that back in June, before the August Primary ballots were going out,” explained Kremer. “We can’t change a different location so we have to do it here at city hall if we’re going to offer it.”

Kremer has been working closely with Eau Claire Clerk Carrie Riepl to understand the logistics of what needs to be in place to successfully offer drive-thru early voting.

Eau Claire began offering the option back in April, according to Kremer.

The challenge that Wausau is faced with compared to Eau Claire is the amount of space the city has to work with to set up tents and infrastructure needed for drive-thru voting.

“You have to think about a drive-thru-type system,” Kremer explained. “You have to have an entrance and then an exit off in another direction. In Eau Claire, they’re able to have everything right at city hall, right in the parking lot. We don’t have that opportunity.”

Kremer says that hasn’t discouraged her from coming up with a way to make drive-thru voting work.

She is set to meet with Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven to discuss the possibility of blocking off a roadway by city hall during the two week period that early voting is allowed before the election, whether it be for one day, a weekend, or several days throughout the early voting period.

“We don’t know; would it be 500 voters, or would we have a thousand come through,” Kremer questioned. “We want to make sure if we’re going to do this, we create a safe way to do it. We definitely want to create the option for our voters, so they have another way to get out and vote.”

Kremer says she will present her new plan to the Safe Elections Task Force on September 16.

It is at that time that the fate drive-thru voting for the November election is expected to be determined.

Kremer stressed that if it ends up not coming to fruition for the Fall, they will continue to work to make it a reality for future elections.

NewsChannel 7 reached out to the Marathon County Health Department regarding drive-thru voting.

Public Information Officer Judy Burrows said over email that while the city has not reached out at this time, the health department would be willing to offer any assistance necessary in formulating a plan.

Copyright 2020 WSAW. All rights reserved.

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