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Politics

Struckhoff: Election Tuesday Off to a Slow Start

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http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/struckhoff-election-tuesday-slow-start_57484.mp3

It’s Election Tuesday here in the Ozarks. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark spoke with Greene County Clerk Richard Struckhoff on voter turnout during what was a cold, wet Election Day morning.

The last time local voters cast a ballot was for the presidential race in November, as well as to select several state and federal officers. That election drew over 63 percent of Greene County’s voting population to polls, according to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.

This morning, the polls opened again. During the first part of the day, Greene County saw a significant drop in voter turnout. It’s fairly common, County Clerk Struckhoff says, for a more localized election like this one to have a smaller turnout, especially compared to last fall’s general election.

“From what I’ve seen in visiting several polling places that I’ve stopped by, it’s been slow. And then at 11 o’clock, I called several of our polling places, I call the same ones every election just to get a gage on how it compares to previous elections, and they’re down. Turnout is not what we expected so far.”

Struckhoff says this might be due in part to the morning’s sleet-infused rain showers. He says it depends on the election, but sometimes a slow start on Election Day is normal, and depending on the weather, things might turn around closer to the end of the day.

“A lot of polling places experience their busy times right after the polls open at 6 a.m. until people start going to work. In most cases this morning, that’s when the nasty weather was hitting. A lot of our precincts indicated that for that first hour or two, they didn’t do as well as they thought they would do.”   

A lot also depends on where the polling place is, he says.

In addition to local city council and school board races, voters in Springfield will choose whether to renew a quarter-cent transportation tax that,  if approved, will help fund construction work on Republic Road, Campbell Avenue and Primrose Street. The Springfield School District is also proposing an increase to the operating tax levy ceiling to help fund the costs of maintaining class sizes, and staff and teacher salaries, as well as a $71.6 million bond initiative for new construction and renovation projects.

Struckhoff says if the bond and levy issues had not been on this ballot, he thinks voting attendance would be even lower. 

The polls close tonight at 7 p.m.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.