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‘If we can help people vote, we will,’ Darlington comes together to hold election during pandemic

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DARLINGTON (WKOW) -- Serving the community is taking on a new meaning for police officers in Darlington, as the coronavirus pandemic converged with election day.

"It's just everybody coming together to make sure that they do their part, to let everybody have the opportunity to vote in the safest environment possible, given the circumstances," said Police Chief Jason King.

Across departments, every city worker is doing their part to make election day happen, including officers. They responded to homes to collect absentee ballots for people at-risk of developing complications from COVID-19, to keep them safe.

"They're just little ways that the police department is trying to help out, to make sure that everybody's voice is heard in this election," King told 27 News.

A few National Guard members also responded to Darlington to serve as poll workers on Tuesday, helping out with general duties and extra cleaning measures.

"One of the young men I was visiting with told me he had just gotten back from Afghanistan recently," King said. "What a change of pace, to go from Afghanistan to the polling booth in Darlington, Wisconsin, but service comes in all shapes and sizes."

Chief King says half of all regular voters in Darlington requested absentee ballots and most of the roughly 500 had already returned them as of early Tuesday afternoon. That kept in-person voting to a minimum at the municipal building polling place.

"There's no doubt that from my observations, the numbers are way down. But those who are coming are happy to be here," he said.

The city took a few extra precautions at the polling location, marking the floor to remind people to stand six feet apart, screening voters as they came in and installing plexiglass barriers to protect poll workers.