The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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October 21, 2012

Sites used as Jasper County voting places back in service after tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. — Two more Jasper County polling places that were blown away in the May 22, 2011, tornado will reopen for voters on Nov. 6.

The two polling places returning to the fold are St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 2423 W. 26th St., and the Joplin Housing Authority, 1834 W. 24th St.

The Jasper County clerk’s office had to make a raft of changes after the tornado — even holding one Joplin election at Northpark Mall — because so many buildings that had served as polling places were destroyed or damaged in the storm.

“I think these changes will take us back to pre-tornado; it’s a relief,” Bonnie Earl, Jasper County clerk, said Friday.

The storm also played havoc with voter rolls because many voters had to relocate. New voter identification cards were mailed out in July, but about 10,000 were returned to the clerk’s office because the addresses on them were no longer valid. Election officials said many of the cards that were returned had been sent to residents in Joplin and Duquesne who moved but had not notified election officials of address changes.

Earl said she thinks workers in her offices have handled at least 10,000 address changes since early September. The clerk’s office sends new voter cards to those who have changed their addresses and to voters whose polling places have changed, such as the two in Joplin. Voters in the Joplin 15 and Central City precincts will return to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, and voters in the Joplin 13 Precinct will vote at the Joplin Housing Authority.

Another weather-related change will move voters in the Monitor Precinct back to their regular voting place — Brooklyn Heights town hall, 529 County Road 180. The town hall had no air conditioning, so voting in the August primary election was held at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.

Earl said she hopes voters will take some time leading up to the election to study choices on the ballot, including the four state questions for Missouri residents.

“There are going to be long lines at the polls on Election Day,” she said. “If people wait until they get to the polls and try to read the questions and decide how to vote, it’s going to slow things down even more.”

Questions on the ballot deal with the selection of Missouri Supreme Court and appeals court judges, control of the St. Louis city police force, a proposed tobacco tax increase to generate funds for health and education, and a measure that would prohibit the state from establishing state-based health insurance exchanges unless they were authorized by a vote of the people.

“I hope people will go to the secretary of state’s website,” Earl said. “They can read the full text of the issue or the fair ballot version that’s a lot shorter and simpler.”

Sample ballots

Jasper County Clerk Bonnie Earl said copies of sample ballots are available at the elections offices on the main floor of the Carthage courthouse and on the second floor of the Jasper County Courts Building at Sixth Street and Pearl Avenue in Joplin.

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