COLUMBIA - Even though Election Day is Nov. 8, the deadline to register to vote is Wednesday, Oct. 12, leaving a little over a week for Missouri voters to register in person, online or by mail. 

However, with a new law that requires Missouri voters to show photo identification in order to cast their ballots at polling locations, as well as congressional and state House redistricting, there are some voters who could expect to see a very different ballot than they could be used to in the past. 

"We did get several calls in August of people that were concerned that we gave them the wrong ballot," Brianna Lennon, the Boone County clerk, said. "And it turned out to be the it was because of the redistricting that happened."

As a result of the state House redistricting, the districts that were in Moniteau County are now fully in Boone County. For the congressional districts, the third and fourth congressional districts are now split down the center of Columbia on Broadway. 

Boone County congressional redistricting map

With the new congressional redistricting map, Boone County is split into two. Jurisdiction falls north and south of Broadway in Columbia.

"The big thing for voters to know is just that they may see different people on their ballot than they're used to seeing," Lennon said. "So they may not have moved, but their district may have changed if their district number has changed, and so has the representation."

Lennon says in her experience, she has seen more voter confusion about the voter ID law than redistricting, but she says any kind of confusion can have an effect on civic engagement. 

"If there's too much confusion about what the process entails, and if they think that they're not going to be able to vote when they get there, then they're just not going to turn out," Lennon said. "And that's going to depress turnout."

Voter turnout has been a nationwide topic of discussion for years. While not every U.S. citizen is eligible to vote, "about 60% of the eligible voting population votes during presidential election years and about 40% votes during midterm elections," according to FairVote.org.

On a statewide level, Missouri saw a 53.3% voting rate in its midterm election and a 65.7% turnout rate in 2020's presidential election. For Boone County, the presidential election results in 2020 reached 70%, which was lower than 2016's rate of 78% and about the same as 2018.

However, last year's special election turnout did not reach more than 11%, and the general municipal election number fell right below 14%. Ultimately, these numbers demonstrate that "voter turnout is so highly variable based on what's on the ballot," Lennon said.

Lennon says the reasoning is fairly straightforward.

"In smaller elections, when there's less on the ballot, or when there are fewer things to vote on, or just less kind of awareness of what's going to be on the ballot, that's when we see the number kind of dip down," she said.

But a "lack of awareness" is something one MU student says she's seen remain consistent for as long as she can remember.

"Black and brown young adults, we vote at such lower rates than white young adults," said Eghosa Ogbevoen, a junior at MU and political chair for MU's Legion of Black Collegians. "And that's detrimental to our progress in, in procuring social equality in this country, detrimental." 

Even with the popularity of the 2020 presidential election, Black and Latino voters voted 8% and 17% less than white voters, respectively. 

The Legion of Black Collegians was founded on MU's campus in 1969 and is the only Black student government in the nation. Ogbevoen is the chair of the committee responsible for educating Black students of their rights on and off campus. This year, they're focused on informing students about candidates and issues on the November ballot.

According to Fair Vote, young people are "much less likely to vote than older ones." In fact, their data states that people between the ages of 18 and 29 turn out at a rate 10 points lower than adults over 30. 

"One thing that I see a lot, especially in online spaces is the rhetoric of like, 'well, my vote doesn't matter,'" Ogbevoen said. "That kind of mentality is so prevalent among young people, especially young voters of color. I understand the frustration, I really do. But that is unacceptable."

One of the initiatives LBC has implemented includes their Countdown to Midterm series, which includes a series of social media posts with candidate biographies and summaries of each amendment. 

"If there's anything that puts doubt into people's mind about whether they have the correct information, then that's going to determine whether they feel like it's worth it to go to their polling place and cast a ballot," Lennon said.

Missouri voters still have a week to register before the registration deadline closes. To see other deadlines, register to vote or request an absentee ballot, visit the Secretary of State's website.

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