Pettis County’s registered voter turnout in the General Election was almost matched state and county predictions for Tuesday’s election.
According to Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada, 69.58 percent of registered voters cast their ballots Tuesday, meaning 18,304 ballots. It should be noted that number could increase slightly, as military ballots are still being accepted until noon Monday. While that number doesn’t beat the 1992 record, it is a higher turnout than both the 2012 and 2008 general elections, he said.
La Strada had predicted between 70 and 75 percent turnout, while Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander predicted a 71 percent turnout statewide.
“It was very good to see that for sure. … I was really impressed with the poll workers out there, they’ve put a lot of hard work into this election, and just the whole team. Everyone really came together,” La Strada said at the Pettis County Courthouse after all 18 precincts had reported. “They knew this one was important with all the issues that were going on with the presidential election, they knew they really needed to put everything into this one for sure. When I went around to all the polling locations, everyone seemed pleased, we had no lines. None. If you did have a line it was probably five or six (people), everyone was in and out. I can’t even explain it.”
La Strada credited his volunteer poll workers and his office staff for such a smooth election, which he said encountered no major issues.
“Our poll workers are proud to be part of the democracy process,” he said. “They’re proud and they should be proud. We’re proud to be a part of the process and we’re going to continue it. It’s a soothing and exciting moment to say we’re done for 2016.
“… 2012 was hectic, it was my first presidential election. This one was awesome — we had all our precincts in in an hour and 13 minutes.”
Although lines were formed at polling places before the doors opened at 6 a.m. the voting process seemed to be moving along quickly in Sedalia, Tuesday morning.
At New Hope Baptist Church, Third Ward Election Judge Ashlee Paxton said the turnout was much higher then she expected.
“People were lined up at 5:30 this morning, and the doors didn’t open up until 6,” she said. “It was raining so we brought them inside.”
By 10:15 a.m. 689 people had cast votes in the Third Ward. Paxton said La Strada noted that voting was taking approximately 15 minutes per person. Paxton added that many people were taking their time and reading through the amendments presented on the ballot.
At the United Methodist Church 1,037 people had voted by 10:45 a.m.
“At 10:45 that’s pretty good,” Election Judge Doris Mergen said. “We had 75 people (outside) at 5:45, we opened the door and let them in, we were ready for them.”
At Convention Hall, in the First Ward, 771 people had voted by 11:05 a.m. In the Second Ward, at First Baptist Church, 644 people had voted by 12:40 p.m.
La Strada, while at the Second Ward polling place, said everything was going well and the turnout was as he expected.
“It’s a large turnout like we expected,” he noted. “The state of Missouri expected a 71 percent turnout, I expected between 70 to 75 percent turnout. Every polling location that I been in to, everything is going good. It’s been a constant, steady flow.
“People have been bringing in their voter registrations cards, their IDs,” he added. “We haven’t had any issues with campaigning or anything of that nature. So, that’s been really good. We have an officer on site, who’s been monitoring the polls. We went ahead and did that just in case anything did happen we were prepared, but so far so good.”
He added that he was “thrilled to see the people engaged” in the voting process and in the election.
“I wish it was like that in every election, but this one has really brought people out,” he said.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke. Faith Bemiss can be reached at 660-530-0289.