Most of the time, midterm elections don’t draw big crowds at the polls. This year appears to be an exception.
Cape County Clerk Kara Clark-Summers said she expects to see about 66 percent of registered voters cast ballots in next Tuesday’s election.
More than 1,200 absentee ballots have been requested by people who will be unable to vote on election day because they will not be near their polling places. “That’s a lot for this type of election,” she said.
Up for grabs is the hotly contested U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Claire McCaskill. Polls throughout the campaign showed the two candidates running neck-and-neck, but a recent poll showed Republican challenger Josh Hawley over McCaskill by seven points.
Also drawing interest on the ballot are two contested races for state representative. Jackson’s Donna Lichtenegger was term-limited out of office in Dist. 146, and Republican Barry Hovis and Democrat Gayla Dace are vying for her seat. Cape Girardeau State Rep. Kathy Swan, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Renita Green for the Dist. 147 seat.
Also creating a big stir among voters are several important issues.
Amendment 1 to the Missouri Constitution has been nicknamed “Clean Missouri” and offers some solutions to problems that could lead to corrupt politicians, but it also changes the way political district boundaries are drawn, and that is problematic.
Two other amendments to the state Constitution and one proposition involve the legalization of marijuana, another hot issue among voters.
Bingo is a popular game around here, and there is a Constitutional amendment that will make it easier to conduct bingo games.
Two more hot propositions hit everyone in the wallet. Proposition B seeks to raise minimum wage in Missouri, and Proposition D wants to raise the motor fuel tax in our state.
There are stories about these issues and some of the local candidates on pages 6-7B. A sample ballot and polling places can be found on our public notices pages.
There are two other contested races. Democrat State Auditor Nicole Galloway is seeking to hold onto her seat (she was originally appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon), as she is challenged by four other candidates. And Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Smith faces Democrat challenger Kathy Ellis and Libertarian candidate Jonathan Shell for his Dist. 8 seat.
In a somewhat shocking turn of events, a photo I.D. is no longer required to vote in Missouri, thanks to Judge Richard Callahan’s amended order which was issued last week.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was incredulous: “In November 2016, 63 percent of Missourians approved a photo I.D. constitutional amendment. A photo I.D. law was implemented on June 1, 2017, and for almost 18 months, has been effective without disenfranchising a single voter,” he said.
“Today, a mere two weeks from the November 2018 mid-term election, Senior Judge Richard Callahan has eviscerated Missouri’s photo I.D. law as crafted by the state legislature. Somehow, while holding the law constitutional, Judge Callahan has prohibited the enforcement of the law for the upcoming election.
“I am deeply concerned that Judge Callahan, who previously struck Missouri’s photo I.D. law in 2006, has once again thwarted the clear desire of Missourians to secure their elections. I am further disappointed that the Missouri Supreme Court has denied my request for an emergency stay of Judge Callahan’s ruling.”
Ashcroft said he hopes the judge’s ruling will be changed by the Missouri Supreme Court after the November election.
Meanwhile, Clark-Summers said all the election judges have to be retrained. “They were just trained on how the process was supposed to be,” she said. Now the process has changed and they will have to be retrained.
“When you make last minute changes, that’s when you’re most likely to have problems pop up,” Ashcroft said.
Ashcroft was in Jackson last Tuesday, visiting with Clark-Summers, to see how the election process was going and asking for suggestions for improvements.
Ashcroft said the State is considering purchasing a new statewide voter registration system, and he is seeking input from local election officials on what they would like to see included in the new system. He wants to make sure the new system will work for all of the counties.
Clark-Summers asked that the secretary of state continue to keep her office informed of what is going on. She also told him there are some delays with the post office in getting absentee ballots mailed out and returned. What should be a three day turnaround often takes 10. Clark said she has been working with officials in the Kansas City postal center to make sure voters are getting their absentee ballots in a timely manner.
“I’m encouraged by how things are going,” Ashcroft said, having visited many of the 116 election authorities in the state.