MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s second statewide election since the coronavirus pandemic came with far more time to prepare than the first, with election officials hoping for a smoother result in Tuesday’s primary.

The state’s presidential primary in April was a messy affair, with municipalities forced to shut down polling sites after workers refused to show up out of fear of contracting the virus. The postal system was overwhelmed with absentee ballots.

Absentee voting has again been intense, with nearly 906,000 such ballots requested by people looking to avoid in-person voting. That compares with around 123,000 in the primary two years ago. As of Tuesday morning, more than 554,000 absentee ballots had been returned, or about 61% of those requested.

Gov. Tony Evers has activated the National Guard to help staff polling sites. Officials in Milwaukee expected to be able to run about 170 polling sites after offering just five in April. They offered poll workers an additional $100 and launched a recruiting effort, said Julietta Henry, director of the Milwaukee County Election Commission.

Poll workers will wear protective equipment and work from behind plexiglass shields, she added. All polling sites will offer curbside voting for people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or people who have come into contact with people with symptomatic COVID-19.

Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said Tuesday that in-person turnout was light in the city Tuesday morning, but no problems were being reported. She said about 45,000 absentee ballots had been received already, with thousands more anticipated during they day. Woodall-Vogg said she was confident they all would be counted Tuesday.

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