Boone County sees more turnout than expected in midterm

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COLUMBIA - In Tuesday's midterm election, Boone County saw record turnout that more closely resembles a presidential election.

Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said he originally predicted 65% turnout, but the final numbers put the turnout at a little more than 70%.

Other mid-Missouri county turnout totals:

  • Callaway: 61%
  • Cole: 63%
  • Audrain: 64%
  • Randolph: 57%

Even the predicted 65% would have been a large turnout for a midterm election. Burks said the largest in the last 20 years was in 2006, with 66% turnout.

Boone County made adjustments for the election, adding nearly 20 polling places and 150 poll workers. However, voters still saw long wait times at the polls.

One voter said he went to his polling place four different times, trying to miss the crowd. He said he thinks important to vote, even if he ended up waiting in line.

""We have to get our voices out there. We have to get our opinions out there. If we don't, everything's just going to be ran by government and society," Nicholas Martin said. "Who actually gets out there and votes? If we're not out there voting, who is?"

Roughly an hour after the polls opened, an electronic ballot box busted. Poll workers at the Trinity Presbyterian Church had voters put their ballots into a provisional ballot box. Burks said this is protocol. Ballots put into the provisional slot will be counted at the end of the night by hand.

Burks said the turnout is at the level of a presidential election.

"We’ve never hit it in the last 20 years. I went back to 1994 and we’ve never hit 80% in a midterm. That exceeds most of our presidential elections."

Burks said he thinks the U.S. Senate race between Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) and incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).

One voter said this election was important to him because of its influence.

"Casting my vote for the Senate was definitely important, especially with how close it is, because it could go either way," Jackson Sparks said. "I think it’s just as important as the presidential election, because they have almost as big of a sway as the president does."

Another voter said he wanted to show his son how to fulfill his civic duty.

"The way the world is going, you have to vote to try to make a difference. When you don't vote and things seem to not go the way you'd like them to, you have no say so in the matter," Jimmie Boyles said.

There was also a spike in absentee ballots this year. 

As of Monday night, Boone County received 4,834, Cole County received 3,176, and Callaway County received 1,253.