Throughout the day Tuesday, there were very quiet moments at Cole County poll locations.
But there was a slow yet somewhat steady stream of voters as Cole County hit 13 percent voter turnout with 6,823 ballots cast in the municipal election. Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer had predicted a turnout of about 10 percent, but he had hoped for better given the amount of contested races and the county's half-cent capital improvement sales tax renewal on the ballot.
At one point, Korsmeyer said they were asked to run extra ballots to the Ward 3 poll location at St. Joseph Cathedral, where there is a contested Jefferson City Council race, around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
"I think some of the city wards did really, really well," he said after the polls closed Tuesday night.
Korsmeyer said things ran smoothly overall, with the exception of a few minor glitches early on where a few machines had to be reset.
"It was really quiet here today," Korsmeyer said.
Just after 11 a.m., 180 voters had cast a ballot at Capital West Christian Church Event Center on Fairgrounds Road, which serves as the polling place for Ward 4, Precinct 2. Poll workers said they had a fairly steady amount of voters coming through with no problems being reported. There were no long lines, and it only took a few minutes for people to cast their ballots.
By 1:35 p.m., about 63 people had voted at Capital City Christian Church. In last April's election, 154 people voted at this location, according to poll workers.
Voters reported largely being drawn to the polls simply to exercise their civic duty, though some were motivated by specific races and issues, such as the proposition to renew the county's half-cent capital improvement sales tax.
Harold Surface said he votes in every election because it's his civic duty, and it's important to him to make sure we have the right leadership. He said he's a registered Democrat but always votes for the candidates he thinks will do the best job.
"We've got to make sure to keep kids safe and everybody safe in the town, so it's very important," he said. "We've got to do our job as adults to make sure we've got a good world that's coming up."
Mark Castrop said he votes in every election because he feels better knowing he took part in the democratic process by voting for people and issues he supports. He said he voted "yes" on Proposition A to renew the current countywide sales tax because it "makes the place look better."
Shannon Henry said he supported the capital improvements sales tax renewal and noted he would like to see more people take part in local elections.
"People just don't get out and vote anymore, and I think that's horrible," Henry said. "I'm a veteran, U.S. Navy veteran, and there's a lot of veterans out there who died for the right to vote, and I say, 'If you don't vote, you can't complain.'"
Jan Harcourt said she votes in every election.
"It's important that we do research on who is running for City Council," she said. "Some people don't consider it important, but it's really important. There's a lot of really exciting things happening in Jeff City right now with development opportunities."
Diane Herrmann said she voted because it's important to her.
"It's the right of Americans to vote, and it's important that we let our voices be heard," she said.
While Herrmann didn't care as much about the issues or candidates on this ballot as much as past ones, she said she voted for Lindsey Rowden for one of the open seats on the Jefferson City Board of Education and Laura Ward for the Ward 2 seat on the Jefferson City Council because she strongly agrees with their views, she said.
"Their stance has been one that I can follow, that I agree with, and I want to keep that momentum going," she said.
Another attraction for some voters was the lack of partisan divisions. Jefferson City offices and area school board races are nonpartisan, and voters aren't bombarded with information about candidates and local issues.
It's a little less noisy, said Dale Gibbler, of Jefferson City.
"I think what I like — it's the only election that really doesn't have overt party affiliations," Gibbler said. "Although some candidates, you can see from their supporters what side they're on."
Regardless of sides, he said he supports candidates that will work hard to get things done. Gibbler also expressed support for the renewal of the county sales tax. Having worked for the county for a decade, he said he understands how important the tax is.
"We don't have a lot of funds floating around to do the things we need to do," Gibbler said. "I didn't really have any heartburn on that one."
Local government is the foundation of all the governments in the nation, said Jerry Foster, of Jefferson City. Electing good people on the local level, supports getting good people to higher levels, he said.
But, it's not easy. You've got to do your research, he said.
"You've got to read a lot," Foster said. "I read local newspapers. And, I go to websites for more information."
Participation in local elections is a responsibility Jefferson City resident John Lyskowski takes seriously. Lyskowski said he read a lot about the candidates in the local newspaper before he marked his ballot. And he is grateful for all the candidates who ran for office.
Both Chris Crull and Bill Steward said the Ward 2 Jefferson City Council race brought them to the polls Tuesday, though each for a different candidate.
"My next-door neighbor is friends with Laura Ward, so he asked me to come out and vote for her," Steward said.
Crull said he came out to vote for Ward's challenger, Edith Vogel, who he said he supported because she reached out to his neighborhood. He also cited her family's longtime commitment to Jefferson City and the Jefferson City Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
"I tend to have the same viewpoint with a lot of her views," Crull said.
In Callaway County, voters in the Jefferson City School District said that particular race was a draw, especially for those with children enrolled in the district.
Debbie Farris, an election judge supervisor for Holts Summit wards 1 and 2 at St. Andrew Church has two grandchildren, a sophomore and junior at Jefferson City High School. She also has a daughter-in-law who teaches second grade at North Elementary School. Farris said she has seen challenges for teachers and students through the pandemic — one large aspect being how hard communication can be when students have questions about their online courses.
"This year's been really hard with everything, virtual learning included. It's not the same. The challenges (teachers and schools) had to adapt to it — everybody has the same issues. I think that would be something (the board) would have a say in," Farris said.