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Turnout hits 34% for Wisconsin Supreme Court race

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Turnout in Wisconsin’s chaotic spring election held during a pandemic last week topped 34% of the voting-age population, the highest for an April vote since 2016 when there were two competitive presidential primary races on the ballot.

This year’s 34% turnout is higher than in 2019, when turnout was 27% in an election where the Supreme Court race was the biggest draw.

Of the more than 1.5 million people who voted, about 71% of ballots were cast absentee, according to preliminary numbers of ballots returned. Last year, just 12% of total ballots cast were absentee.

Various Democrats claimed Republicans’ refusal to change the election date and rules due to the pandemic amounted to an effort to suppress liberal votes so the conservative court candidate could win. They argued that Monday’s victory by liberal Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky show the limits of that strategy.

Karofsky defeated incumbent conservative Supreme Court Justice Dane Kelly by nearly 11 points. It marked the first time since 2008 that an incumbent justice was defeated. In both cases, Louis Butler in 2008 and Kelly this year, they had been appointed to their seats and lost the first time they were on the ballot.

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