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Wisconsin National Guard helps at polls for special congressional election due to staffing shortages

Wisconsin National Guard helps at polls for special congressional election due to staffing shortages Photo: KSTP-TV.

Eric Chaloux
Updated: May 12, 2020 04:39 PM
Created: May 12, 2020 03:24 PM

Voters in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District headed to the polls Tuesday in a special election to fill an open U.S. Congressional seat left by former Rep. Sean Duffy, who stepped down.

The Wisconsin National Guard positioned 160 members in civilian clothes at polling stations in the 7th Congressional District in part due to worker shortages because of COVID-19 concerns.

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“It’s a little unconventional, you know, we all signed up to help support our community, if this is the form that they need us, then we are happy to do it,” said 1st Lieutenant Josh Miska of the Wisconsin National Guard.

Lt. Miska was helping voting staff with duties at polls in St. Croix County.

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“You would think people would be a little timid and kind of unknowing of what’s happening here but everyone has been super happy, the only difference is we’re wearing masks and social distancing,” Lt. Miska said.

Voting during COVID-19 starts with a person cleaning their hands, either with sanitizing spray or in a sink with soap set up outside the polls in Hudson.

“I was determined to vote, so as long as there was plenty of spacing, good social distancing, good practice with everybody involved,” said Burt King, a Hudson voter. “It’s certainly different, certainly wish it wasn’t so, hopefully it doesn’t restrict a lot of voters from coming out.”

There wasn't a line at the Hudson Fire station when King came to vote around midday Tuesday, nor was there a wait when downtown resident Kim Burns and her two dogs arrived to vote.

Handwashing stations set up in Hudson ahead of Tuesday's special congressional election

"My husband voted earlier, he said nobody is down there, 'go down and vote now,'" Burns said. "If it was crowds of people, maybe I’d think differently, I just think it’s important to get out."

Hudson City Clerk Becky Eggen told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she was surprised by the large amount absentee ballots requested before the election with just one race on the ballot.

The winner of the race, either Democrat Tricia Zunker or Republican Tom Tiffany, will be immediately sworn into Congress to fill Duffy’s term that ends at the end of the year.

The polls close at 8 p.m. in the 21 counties that make up the 7th District in western and northern Wisconsin.


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