While some Mid-Missouri county clerks anticipate higher voter turnout in this week's election compared to the last presidential election, others think it will be about the same, only with a heavier emphasis on absentee voting.
Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer predicts 70 percent of the county's 54,000 registered voters will vote in Tuesday's election, about the same voter turnout as the 2016 presidential election.
"We're just going to have a lot more people voting absentee instead of going to the polling place on Election Day, which alleviates a lot of stress on the polling places anyways," he said. "If we get a 15-20 percent voter turnout here (at the Cole County Clerk's Office) with absentee, that's 15-20 percent that's not going to show up to the polling places on Election Day."
The Cole County Clerk's Office has already doubled the number of received absentee ballots received this presidential election compared to the 2016 presidential election.
The county had about 5,000 absentee ballots in the voting machine Thursday afternoon, with nearly 3,500 mailed-in absentee ballots waiting to be counted on Election Day, Korsmeyer said. More than 400 people vote absentee at the Cole County Clerk's Office daily, he added.
For the 2016 presidential election, Korsmeyer said, the Cole County Clerk's Office received almost 4,000 total absentee ballots.
"It's a historical election, and I'm honored to be part of it, so it's really going to be something," he said.
Monday is the last day Missouri residents can vote absentee in person.
In Callaway County, Clerk Ronda Miller said she expects a 76 percent voter turnout.
As of Friday afternoon, Miller's office had received more than 1,800 mail-in absentee ballots and mail-in ballots. More than 1,900 residents have voted at the county clerk's office, she said.
Osage County Clerk Nicci Kammerich expects a 10 percent increase in voter turnout this election — 85 percent compared to 75 percent in 2016.
As of Thursday evening, Osage County had nearly 850 absentee ballots, she said. In past presidential elections, the Osage County Clerk's Office normally received 150-250 absentee ballots.
Miller County may see an 80 percent voter turnout for this presidential election, a significant jump from its 65 percent voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election, according to County Clerk Clinton Jenkins.
"I think we're going to break every record," he said.
As of Friday, Miller County had received more than 2,000 absentee ballots, Jenkins said. For the 2016 presidential election, the county had a total of 1,021 absentee ballots.
"Since the deadline to mail in absentee ballots passed, it's been 50-75 voters every day, and that will increase over the next few days," Jenkins said last week.
Maries County may see an 83 percent voter turnout for the Nov. 3 presidential election, County Clerk Rhonda Brewer said. The county had a 71 percent voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election.
As of Thursday, the Maries County Clerk's Office had more than 580 absentee ballots mailed out and cast at its office, Brewer said.
Even though counties are seeing a spike in absentee ballots, several county clerks warned there will be long lines at the polls and asked residents to be patient.
To help alleviate the long lines, Jenkins encouraged voters to know how they plan to vote before arriving at the polling location.
"With the turnout we're going to have and the double-sided (Miller County) ballot, it's going to take people longer than usual to vote, and that's a recipe for long lines," he said.
Voters who recently moved within the county or had a name change should fill out voter registration forms with their correct information and bring the forms with them to their new polling locations, Korsmeyer advised. Residents can print that form at colecounty.org/455/Address-andor-Name-Change.
Due to the ongoing pandemic and anticipated large number of voters on Election Day, local county clerks are giving poll workers personal protective equipment, such as gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and sneeze guards. County clerks also encourage voters to practice social distancing and wear masks.
There will be extra poll workers whose sole job will be to sanitize tables and pens at all of Maries County's precincts, Brewer said.
Polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on Election Day. If voters are in line at 7 p.m., they have the right to vote, according to the Missouri Secretary of State's Office.
Voters can look up their polling location by typing in their addresses at voteroutreach.sos.mo.gov/PRD/VoterOutreach/VOSearch.aspx.
Voters must show a form of acceptable identification and sign the poll book to obtain a ballot. Voters can find samples of acceptable IDs to vote at sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri/AcceptableIDstoVote—01.17.2020.pdf.