Boone County predicts low turnout for municipal elections

2 weeks 3 days 46 minutes ago Monday, April 02 2018 Apr 2, 2018 Monday, April 02, 2018 7:24:00 PM CDT April 02, 2018 in News
By: Nikki Ogle, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Boone County is not expecting many votes in its municipal election on Tuesday. 

Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks predicts a low 10 percent turnout. He said many things can affect a voter's decision to go to the polls- even the weather. The main issue, though, is uninformed voters.

"In a presidential election, in a U.S. Senate election, there are millions of dollars being spent on the race," Burks said. "So people are more aware of the choices that they’re going to have and what’s going to be on the ballot."

Registered voter Randy Williamson said voters should do their own research. 

"I think that’s a lot of the problem why we don’t get as many people that turn out for the local elections," Williamson said. "They just don’t know what the issues are, and they don’t know what their voting for."

Aside from uninformed voters, another problem is simply, uninterested voters.

Burks said it is hard for voters to anticipate what issues will affect their daily lives. So voters like Williamson may be more likely to vote when they are passionate about something on the ballot.

"I think a lot of people vote their heart more so than, you know, what’s right, what’s wrong," Williamson said.

For Bruce Ballard, the Columbia Public Schools bond issue brings out his passion to vote Tuesday. Ballard said his son was bullied so much he pulled him out of school.

Ballard said people do not use their right to vote because they may think the issues do not affect them at all.

"They may not impact them directly in a way that they can see. For in our case, our son, what was done to him was so obvious and important to us that we were going to vote about that," Ballard said. 

Boone County is not the only mid-Missouri county predicting a low turnout: Audrain, 5 percent; Callaway, 8 percent; Moniteau, 10 percent.

“We have no countywide issues on the ballot, and not all of our school districts and cities have issues," Audrain County Shelley Harvey said. 

Callaway County Clerk Denise Hubbard said most counties see low turnouts in April elections, but Callaway County voters may be even more affected by the weather. 

"With the potential of thunderstorms, most of our county doesn’t want to get out and vote," Hubbard said. 

In attempt to increase turnout in the next generation of voters, Burks said Boone County is trying a new tactic this year.

"Using youth election participants, helping our poll workers, the hope is that they see how important our local elections are, and then as we do this program every year, it grows here in Boone County," Burks said. 

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