Mid-Missouri counties see early signs of high voter turnout

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FAYETTE - Some mid-Missouri counties have shown early signs of high voter turnout for the midterms.

Howard County Clerk Kathyrne Harper said she previously predicted a turnout of 54 percent in her county for Tuesday’s elections. Now, that prediction is higher, between 57 and 58 percent.

"Whether it'll be a record midterm for Howard County has yet to be seen," she said.

Harper said voter turnouts in Howard County during midterms have ranged from 45 to 58 percent in recent years.

“Based on this last week, it feels like there’s a lot more energy, and the bases are getting riled up,” Harper said.

Harper said she thinks this energy is, in part, due to Trump visiting the state.

The clerk also said her office has received more phone calls from people wanting to check that they are registered to vote or wanting to double-check their polling place.

Absentee ballot requests help a clerk predict turnout. Harper said she is seeing more absentee ballot requests for this election than for past midterms.

Absentee voting is taking longer than in the past too, Harper said, with people taking up to 20 minutes. As a result, the county has added more voting booths and privacy screens. Harper also said she urged people in the county to read the ballot issues ahead of time.

Randolph County Clerk Will Ellis said he predicts a 45 percent voter turnout in the county. For the 2014 elections, Randolph County had a turnout of 43 percent.

“We’re getting some voters that we normally don’t see come out,” Ellis said.

He said he believes the propositions and amendments on the ballot are driving these new votes.

Montgomery County Clerk Pam Cartee also reported more absentee ballots for this election than for other non-presidential elections. She said many people have asked to see sample ballots.

For Tuesday’s midterms, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft predicts a voter turnout of 54.73 percent for Missouri. According to the announcement, there are more than 4.2 million registered Missouri voters as of Nov. 1.

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