Low Voter Turnout for Sewer Bond

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COLUMBIA - Thirty-two polling sites opened at 6:00 am Tuesday morning for Columbia residents to weigh in on a proposed $32.34 million sewer bond issue, but not many people showed up to vote throughout the morning hours.

The central voting location at the Boone County Government Center only saw 24 voters by 12:00 pm Tuesday morning. A worker at the poll site said the election isn't expected to have a large turnout. The site only received 94 ballots to give out, but also has an electronic ballot machine.

Harold Miederhoff is a poll worker for Tuesday's election. He said the low amount of voters could be due to two factors.

"A one-issue ballot is typically a slow turnout," said Miederhoff. "Also, today's weather is affecting a lot of people. Some may be waiting until later in the day when the rain quits."

Joel Ray voted in Tuesday's election. In light of the low voter turnout, he said people shouldn't complain if they don't come out and vote.

"Everybody complains about the sewer thing, either one way or the other, but they don't come in to voice their opinion about it." said Ray. "I'm concerned about various aspects of the sewer issue. it affects all of us in the community, and if you don't exercise your franchise then you have no way of saying to the community what your opinion is."

Miederhoff said he expects voter turnout to pick up once residents get off work.

The proposed $32.34 million bond would go toward improving 675 miles of local sewer lines, many of which need repairs.

If passed, utility rates would increase over a five year span, totaling an increase of about $3 a month. If voters do not pass the bond, rates would go up 38% in 2015. That would make the average sewer bill increase to about $33 a month, just slightly below Springfield and Jefferson City rates.

Poll sites will be open until 7:00 pm Tuesday night. For a full list of poll sites, visit the Boone County website.