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In Wisconsin recall, voters vent anger at Washington-style politics

The Wisconsin recall has brought record-breaking political spending to the state, and as voters went to the polls Tuesday, many said they simply wanted the contentious process to be over.

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The unprecedented spending, especially from out-of-state groups, has soured voters who feel the political process is being unfairly manipulated.

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Gustav Moren, of Fox Point, says he voted for Darling during the last election and he sees no reason why he should be forced to vote again after she won fairly. “I can understand the problem with Walker because he pushed for changes he didn’t necessarily campaign on. But the senators have been there fair and square. They’re just paying the price for his mistakes,” Mr. Moren says.

Wisconsin laws, however, make Governor Walker ineligible for a recall vote until next year. And here in a traditionally Republican stronghold, the sorts of sign-waving, slogan-chanting public contention that gripped Madison earlier this year are largely absent.

“People here aren’t confused about who to vote for, they’ve decided. It’s the recall they want over,” says Sue Hamill of Fox Point, working from her laptop at Stone Creek Coffee Roasters, a nearby coffee shop.

Still, the emotion surrounding the issue seems certain to create a relatively high turnout, says Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Voter turnout for the April 4 Supreme Court election, which became a de facto referendum on the union battle, came in at 35 percent – about 50 percent higher than normal.

Mr. Franklin predicts that Tuesday’s turnout will likely be above 40 percent. “We can reach that easily. Right now it’s just a wide open question of how above that you can go,” he says.

Results will start trickling in late Tuesday night. Because Wisconsin does not have an election night reporting system, the earliest results will come from the Associated Press, which is tasked with reporting an unofficial count based on county clerk results, says Reid Magney, a spokesman with the Government Accountability Board in Madison.

Turnout is, at this point, anecdotal. Mr. Magney says he is hearing reports of a “heavy” turnout in all six districts.

The earliest winners can be certified is next week. Candidates have three days following the official canvas late this week to request a recount. If no recount is requested, a winner can be certified. If the victory goes to a challenger, they will be allowed to take oath of their new office the following day.

But because the districts involved are relatively small, with winning margins likely at a few hundred votes, recounts are likely, says Franklin.

“That’s pretty believable,” he says.

Not everyone looks at such a prospect with dread, though, despite such a drawn-out election. Bill Anderson of Shorewood, who arrived at his polling place with his three young daughters in tow, welcomed the political ferment.

“People are getting involved in what happens in the state. The more this goes on, the more people will come out. I like that,” Mr. Anderson says.

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