Johnson, Walker stop in Eau Claire during campaign tour across the state
by Andee Erickson
Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ron Johnson joined each other Sunday in a statewide campaign to encourage audiences to vote early, despite the skepticism many of their supporters have for early voting.
“Some of us like to vote on election day,” Walker said. “But a lot of other people increasingly find it easier to vote early.”
In their tour around Wisconsin, the campaign stopped at Eau Claire’s GOP field office before visiting the Wausau, Green Bay and Waukesha offices.
Walker and Johnson supporter Deb Motzing of Eau Claire attended the campaign promoting early voting, but Motzing said she doesn’t believe in the idea herself unless she’s out of town on Election Day and needs to send in an absentee vote.
“The reason I don’t believe in it is too many things can happen between point A and point B,” Motzing said. “But I know it’s becoming popular among the parties.”
Although she’s never had to worry about finding time to wait in line at the polls on Election Day, Motzing said she understands the role early voting plays for long-shift employees who can’t get away from work.
Orpha Zien Mattix used to work the polls and also said she doesn’t trust early voting because she fears her vote could be changed before it’s counted on Election Day. Mattix, an Eau Claire resident, said she attended Sunday’s event out of support for both Walker and Johnson.
Concerns about early voting are prefaced with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s claims on the campaign trail suggesting the election will be rigged against him.
But when Scott Tronnier casted his vote last Friday he said he was pleased with the process at the town of Washington’s municipal building. It wasn’t busy, he said, and the only reason he wasn’t done in less than a few minutes was because he asked the pollsters how they would process his early ballot on Election Day.
In response to Tronnier, Altoona resident Joseph Szagna — who has been working the polls for four years — said pollsters seal early ballots in an envelope to be kept in a safe place until Election Day. During lulls on Election Day, poll workers then run those ballots through the machine to be counted.
Walker also encouraged Eau Claire residents at the event to campaign for Republicans the next couple of weeks and widen the tight margin between Johnson and Democrat Russ Feingold in the race for U.S. Senate.
When Feingold wasn’t re-elected to the Senate in 2011, Walker said it was the voters’ way of firing Feingold from his 18 years in office. Incumbent Johnson, who assumed office from Feingold, is giving voters the chance to choose Wisconsin and manufacturing values again, Walker said.
Johnson criticized Feingold for obtaining an education at elite schools such as Harvard University and University of Oxford. Meanwhile, Johnson said he had to wash dishes for $1.45 an hour, skip his senior year of high school to work full time and also worked full time through college.
“In America I don’t think anybody should have to apologize for working hard and succeeding (at) their American dream, and that’s why I want to go back to Washington, D.C., for just one more term,” Johnson said
His experience building on a Wisconsin-family manufacturing company will help him grow the state’s economy, he said. He plans to do so through growing the private sector, reducing business regulations and corporate taxes and utilizing energy resources to keep prices low.
“I want Wisconsinites to be able to keep more of their hard earned money and more of their freedom,” Johnson said.
The Feingold campaign did not return calls to the Leader-Telegram for comment before deadline.