With 71 percent voter turnout expected statewide in Tuesday’s general election, Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada said he is expecting similar numbers in Pettis County, which could be a record.
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced the prediction earlier this week, a compilation of the local turnout estimates submitted to Kander’s office by election authorities in each jurisdiction. If the 71 percent estimate is met, more than 3 million votes will be cast, according to information from Kander’s office.
La Strada said he expects between 70 and 75 percent of registered voters will go to the polls Tuesday in Pettis County.
“We’ve tracked all our numbers from 1992, 2008 and 2012 and we are on track with about 2008 (Barack Obama vs. John McCain) numbers, which had 69.5 percent turnout,” La Strada said. “Absentee voting has fluctuated throughout each day we have had; (Friday) we had a little over 100 at the counter. … I’m hoping we can beat 1992 (Bill Clinton vs. George H.W. Bush vs. Ross Perot) when it was 72 percent in Pettis County, I think we can beat that. I think this will be the largest election turnout for our county.”
Voters need to bring some form of ID to the polls, and La Strada encouraged them to bring either their driver’s license or their voter registration card, which Pettis County voters should have already received in the mail, because the poll pads used by poll workers can scan them, making the process easier and more efficient.
With such a large turnout expected, easy and efficient will hopefully help lines move a little faster. If they don’t, La Strada reminded voters to be patient with each other and with poll workers, who are volunteers.
“There may be a line and you may have to wait, it’s just part of the process,” La Strada said. “Everyone needs to be patient and make sure everyone is checked in lawfully and make sure our poll workers are doing their due diligence and properly checked in for all the voters.”
Citizens need to make sure they are registered to vote before going to a polling location, and they need to make sure their address is correct if they recently moved. La Strada encouraged citizens to make those changes before Election Day. If a voter visits a polling location Tuesday and needs to change their address, they will be sent to the Pettis County Courthouse to make sure they receive the correct ballot for their jurisdiction, La Strada said.
For citizens who can’t make it to the polls Tuesday, there are two more chances for absentee voting — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at the clerk’s office on the second floor of the Pettis County Courthouse.
Voters should be focused on voting Tuesday, not campaigning. By state statute, campaigning is not allowed within 25 feet of a polling location, and La Strada said his office will not tolerate campaigning at the polls for any candidate or party.
“We will not tolerate that at all. They are going in there to do their civic duty — go in and vote and leave,” La Strada said. “We ask everyone be professional about it. Everyone has their candidate and their right to, but there are laws people have to abide by.”
Voters should also leave their Election Day selfies for outside the voting booth. In the state of Missouri, citizens cannot take a photo with their ballot that shows who they voted for, as it is considered soliciting, La Strada said. Taking a photo with their “I Voted” sticker afterward is perfectly acceptable, he added.
Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Unofficial statewide results will be updated on the secretary of state’s website at enr.sos.mo.gov throughout election night and Pettis County results will be updated on pettiscomo.com.
Kander announced a new website this week to help voters prepare before Election Day. Citizens can visit the Missouri Voter Outreach Center at VoterOutreach.sos.mo.gov to view their candidates and measures that will appear on their ballot, find their districts and look up their polling place in one location.
For more information, visit pettiscomo.com or www.GoVoteMissouri.com, search “Pettis County Elections Office” on Facebook, or call the Clerk’s office at 660-826-5000 ext. 918 or La Strada’s cell phone at 660-281-7767.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.