Despite a high-profile ballot measure and a sweeping new voting law in place, County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer is anticipating only about a third of Cole County voters to cast a ballot in Tuesday's election.
Korsmeyer is clinging to the midterm average of about 35 percent voter turnout but said the ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use has the potential to drive greater turnout.
Nearly 30 percent of the more than 53,000 registered voters in Cole County voted in the August primaries. During the 2018 midterms, when Missouri voters legalized medicinal marijuana, more than 63 percent of Cole County voters turned out to vote.
"I don't know if just marijuana on the ballot brought all these extra people out or not, so I just decided to stick with my average of 35 percent," Korsmeyer said. "So I could be way off, but I figured 35 percent is safe."
There were also other ballot measures and more contested races in 2018 than there are this year, he noted.
Following the passage of an omnibus election reform bill earlier this year, voters will be required to present a photo ID to cast a ballot Tuesday. Acceptable forms of ID include a Missouri driver's license, state ID, passport and military photo ID.
Voters can use an expired driver's license as long as it expired after the most recent general election, according to guidance from the Secretary of State's Office. Voters without an ID can vote with a provisional ballot, which are counted as long as the voter's signature matches the signature on file in the county's voter rolls.
Korsmeyer said he's not anticipating any issues with the new photo ID requirement or that it will impact voter participation. The law's absentee voting provisions, however, might.
The state's new election law provides two weeks of no-excuse absentee voting before the election. Cole County voters wishing to vote before Tuesday have until 5 p.m. Monday to vote at the County Clerk's Office.
"We're getting lots and lots of absentee because of the new law," Korsmeyer said. "Our numbers are way up what they were in 2020, and even from August they're way up."
As of Monday, Oct. 31, more than 1,100 people had voted absentee in person and another 444 by mail, according to data from Korsmeyer's office.
The Cole County presiding commissioner race is the only contested local election. Statewide, Missourians are choosing a new U.S. senator and state auditor. Several state Senate and House districts are contested as well.
In addition to the recreational marijuana question, Tuesday's ballot features four other measures for voters to weigh in on.
The News Tribune has compiled all of its general and primary election coverage online at newstribune.com/election. A voter's guide was published in today's e-Edition and print edition as well.
Videos of candidate forums the News Tribune hosted for contested county, state House and U.S. Congressional races can be found at newstribune.com/election and on the City of Jefferson YouTube channel.