The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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November 5, 2012

Election officials predict heavy voter turnouts in Four States

Election officials in the region are urging area voters to be patient and to be informed when they go to the polls today.

Heavy turnouts are expected for the election to determine president and a myriad of other questions, depending on the locality of the voter.

The large number of state questions on ballots in Missouri and Oklahoma are prompting election officials in the two states to urge voters to be familiar with the propositions before they step into the voting booth.

“It will help a lot if people review those issues in advance,” said Bonnie Earl, Jasper County clerk. “If they try to study them and make a decision when they get there; it’s really going to slow things down,” she said.

Even voters who are familiar with the issues are going to have to take some time, said Connie Payton, assistant secretary with the Oklahoma Election Board office in Ottawa County.

“It’s a big ballot; people are going to have to be patient,” she said.

In Missouri, a voter turnout of more than 70 percent is being predicted by Robin Carnahan, secretary of state.

Earl, in Jasper County, and Kay Baum, Newton County clerk, said they don’t believe the local turnout will be quite that high, based on the number of absentee ballots cast by those who cannot vote on election day.

“Our absentees are down from four years ago, when our turnout was 61 percent,” said Earl. “It could be more; it’s impossible to predict.”

Baum said she thinks turnout will land somewhere between 60 and 70 percent in Newton County.

“Absentee voting started out really heavy and then slacked off,” she said. “I don’t think we’ll  end up with as many as four years ago, when turnout was 67 percent.”

Earl and Baum both said their officers were fielding lots of calls from voters, most about where to vote. Earl said the location of a voter’s polling place is on their voter ID card, and also can be found online at county clerk’s websites and the website of secretary of state, or by calling the county clerk’ office.

Don Pyle, Crawford County (Kan.) clerk, said he expects voter turnout there to be in the range of 60 percent. Statewide, turnout is being predicted at 68 percent in Kansas.

“We had more advance voting this time than four years ago, when our turnout was 55 percent,” he said.

This is the first general election for Kansas’ new photo ID requirements and Pyle reminded voters to bring a a government-issued photo ID card with them to the polls. In the primary election, only four people forgot to bring the required cards and had to vote provisional ballots.

“But two brought photo IDs to us before we canvassed, so their votes got counted,” he said.

 Big turnouts also are expected in Oklahoma, based on numbers showing up for advance voting, said Connie Payton, assistant secretary of the Ottawa County election board.

“In any county we’ve spoken with, turnouts look to be heavy,” she said.

Oklahoma voters also are subject to photo ID requirements. In Missouri, voters also may use a paycheck, utility bill, or bank statement that contains their name and address.

Poll hours

In Missouri, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and in Kansas and Oklahoma, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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