In a few days, Missouri voters will get their chance to voice their opinion regarding the 2016 presidential candidates, and record turnout is expected in Pettis County.
Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada is predicting between 45 and 50 percent Pettis County voter turnout for Tuesday’s presidential preference primary in Missouri.
During the 2008 primary, Pettis County had almost 30 percent turnout, which La Strada credited to the open presidential seat, but 2012’s turnout was much lower, with only 6 percent of Pettis voters going to the polls. La Strada is expecting Tuesday’s primary to be much larger.
“In the years I’ve been here, I’ve seen a lot of elections and this is the highest participation in a primary I’ve ever seen, which is awesome,” he said. “We sent out an election reminder and it’s been great, we’re getting a lot of calls for needing absentee ballots sent out. Needless to say, it’s good, but I really think it’s the fact it’s a presidential year and an open seat. … We’re getting a lot of positive phone calls with election questions. My prediction is based not just on absentee ballots but also how much participation I’m getting.”
Poll workers will ask voters which party ballot they prefer for Tuesday’s primary. Missouri voters are not required to be registered with a particular political party, meaning they can choose any of the state’s four registered parties for their ballot: Republican, Democrat, Constitution or Libertarian. La Strada noted it’s a “pretty simple process” for the Missouri primary when compared with caucuses across the country.
“It’s a party preference election,” La Strada explained. “The main thing is just because you are a Democrat or Republican or Constitution or Libertarian, just because you are individually that party that does not mean you have to pick that party ballot in the state of Missouri. You just have to pick a party by statute for the right ballot. … I like how our state handles it, that you have the option to pick whichever party.”
The nursing home absentee voting team has been visiting local nursing homes this week to help elderly voters, and La Strada said they’ve been busy with phone calls requesting visits.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in Pettis County. Voters who think they will not be able to make it to the polls Tuesday for whatever reason can absentee vote at La Strada’s office in the Pettis County Courthouse from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Monday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
La Strada reminded voters to bring their voter registration card or driver’s license to “make the process faster for poll workers and the voters.” If voters have an address or name change, they should get it changed before going to the polls.
“People are excited about the process, narrowing down candidates to represent them,” La Strada said. “Our office has done a lot of networking, social networking, mailers. It’s just a different society from what it was 10 years ago, we didn’t have Facebook. A lot more people are participating in the process and we strive for that every day in our office.”
Sample ballots can be viewed at pettiscomo.com or by stopping by La Strada’s office. For more information, stop by La Strada’s office on the second floor of the Pettis County Courthouse, call the office at 660-826-5000 ext. 918 or his cell phone at 660-281-7767.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.