St. Charles County voters can expect company on Nov. 6.
County Election Authority Director Rich Chrismer said it’s looking like heavy turnout with the possibility of long lines at the polls. There is one word he frequently uses to describe interest and possible turnout.
“Unbelievable,” Chrismer said on Oct. 17. “It’s almost a presidential election.”
“To give you an example, on the first day of absentee voting, which was Sept. 25 – during the first two weeks we may get four to eight people – we got 100 a day,” Chrismer said. “And now we’re getting 250 every day.”
As far as voter registration, which ended Oct. 10, Chrismer said the county is well over 5,000-6,000 registrations and the election authority has mailed out more than 3,500 absentee ballots.
“I’m looking for a 45- to 50-percent turnout,” Chrismer said. “For an off-year November election, that’s unbelievable. “I just can’t believe how many people are voting already.”
Even though registration is over, he said he has had to keep his staff working 12 hours a day to keep up with inputting registrations to allow the county to send out reminder cards.
“If we get 25 percent of voters in an off-year election that’s big,” he said. “If we have something really important on the ballot say, something on, say, guns, we get 35, 38 or 40 percent maybe. But this is going to beat that.”
A contentious Missouri Senate race between incumbent Claire McCaskill [D] and Republican challenger Josh Hawley may be one factor.
“A lot of times people don’t really pay attention to elections until the signs up or the commercials start running,” Chrismer said. “I think what is happening up in Washington, D.C., has got people really fired up. I don’t know if its everywhere or all over the country, but I call tell that St. Charles County is revved up for something.”
The turnout probably won’t approach the totals for the 2016 presidential election when 83 percent of the county’s registered voters cast ballots. According to Chrismer, the county has between 280,000 and 283,000 registered voters.
Voters will cast ballots at 121 polling places. Absentee ballots are considered one polling place giving the county a total of 122 polling places.
Lines at polling places also will be due to a lengthy ballot, Chrismer said. “This is the longest ballot in my 16 years [as director of the county’s Election Authority], I’ve never had so many issues on the ballot,” he said.
Along with the Senate race, residents face decisions on county executive, county council seats, county offices, state representatives, circuit court and associate circuit judges, and a charter amendment dealing with smoking. The ballot also includes state constitutional amendments and propositions dealing with redistricting, medical marijuana, bingo, minimum wage and increasing the state’s fuel tax.
Chrismer said he has watched some people voting absentee just to get a sense of how long voting is taking. For some voters, it has taken up to 35 minutes to go through the ballot language and finish voting.
He’s urging voters to gain some familiarity with the ballot language before voting [see pages 18 and 21 for ballot language and articles, some online, for all ballot measures.] A sample ballot is available at election.sccmo.org and at the authority’s office, 397 Turner Blvd. in St. Peters.