In years past, absentee voting lines stretched through the hallways of the City-County Building in downtown Madison as voters often waited for hours just to cast a single ballot.

This year is very different, and Madison voters are taking advantage of the opportunity to vote early without the long wait. The result of expanded opportunities to vote absentee has been new early voting records for the City of Madison. As of Tuesday, the City Clerk had issued a total of 35,497 absentee ballots and had 31,421 returned to be counted. This breaks the previous records of 32,012 issued in 2008 and 29,199 returned in 2012.

The city of Madison has also established another new record with 26,527 absentee ballots cast in person at early voting locations. The previous high was 18,752 ballots cast in person in 2012.

The Madison city clerk’s office has trained librarians at all nine public libraries to process absentee votes. The Madison City Council approved the expanded absentee voting hours and locations in early September. There are three other sites in addition to the nine public libraries where you may cast an absentee ballot including UW-Madison, Edgewood College and the city’s East Side Streets Division. The last day that you can vote absentee in Madison is Friday, Nov. 4.

In the entire state of Wisconsin, nearly 328,000 voters have cast absentee ballots so far according to the state Elections Commission. It is about half of the 659,000 absentee ballots cast by Election Day in 2012.

Many cities continue to expand locations where voters can cast absentee ballots in person. Voting locations and times can be found here.