A record number of registered voters in St. Charles County – perhaps as many as 280,000 – may cast ballots in the Nov. 8 general election.
“It goes up every year, but this is the most we’ve had with new registrations that I can recall,” Rich Chrismer, the county’s election authority director, said on Oct. 17. “We’ve had at least 10,000.”
Chrismer said the county had 272,786 registered voters as of that morning. “But it’s going to be well over 280,000,” he predicted.
Even through the deadline for registering for the Nov. 8 general election was Oct. 12, the county voter registrations can continue to come in from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. Those registrations, made online, were being held by state officials for some reason, Chrismer said. The county received about 4,000 new registrations on Oct. 13 and 2,000 more on Oct. 17.
The number of county-registered voters this year is higher than the number of registered voters who voted in the previous two presidential elections.
In Nov. 2012, the county had 256,395 registered voters, of whom 186,639 voted – a 72.81 percent turnout. Four years earlier,189,672 out of 243,746 registered voters voted in the November election – a 77.82 percent turnout.
The lengthy Nov. 8 general election ballot features the presidential contest as well as races for a U.S. Senate seat, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer. The ballot also includes other congressional and state legislative races plus three available seats on the St. Charles County Council. The ballot also includes constitutional amendments and tax increase proposals for senior services, the Francis Howell School District and area fire protection districts.
Chrismer said controversy over absentee ballots in the city of St. Louis may have prompted earlier requests from county residents.
Absentee voting actually began Sept. 27, six weeks before the election as specified by state law. Applications for absentee ballots can be found on the authority’s web site at www.sccmo.org. Requests for mail-in absentee ballots have to be made by 5 p.m. on Nov. 2 [the Wednesday before the election].
The deadline for voting absentee in person at the county’s election authority office, 397 Turner Boulevard in St. Peters, is 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7.
Absentee voting at the authority’s office is from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The office also will be open for voting from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 and on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Chrismer said the county also has received more than 9,000 requests for mail-in ballots. Mail-in ballots often are cast by people who cannot or do not want to go to the polls.
The county has about 121 precincts locations for voting – 122 with absentee ballots considered one more polling place, Chrismer said. The county election authority is expected to have eight election judges at all but five or six of the precinct polling places, with 10 at the others. The county is required to have six judges at each polling places.
The polling places will have new equipment, including bigger tablet computers for voting. Chrismer said he hopes voting will be faster and smoother, but long lines are expected.
“I think we’re prepared for that,” he said.