During an average election, poll workers at Calvary Baptist, 600 E. 50th St., might spend much of their day reading or crocheting due to lack of voter turnout.
That wasn't the case Tuesday, George Largent said.
"We have not looked up since 6 a.m.," he said. "It feels like we are processing one (ballot) every second. I would say this is higher than the (2016) presidential election at this point."
Largent, one of several poll workers at the church, said 25 people were in line at 5:45 a.m., 15 minutes before polls opened. The swarm of voters never let up, with at least 60 people waiting in line as of noon. The line snaked out of the voting area and through two hallways as the number of ballots cast at that location steadily rose above 700.
"There has been zero breaks" in voters, Largent said. "They are flocking here."
Voters weren't saying what was driving them to the polls in a midterm election that was viewed by many around the country as a referendum on Republican President Donald Trump. Missouri voters were deciding who would fill a seat in the U.S. Senate as well as determining numerous initiatives on subjects such as medical marijuana, minimum wage and a gas tax.
The line at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 2423 W. 26th St., was at least 80 people deep at 2 p.m., with more voters every minute taking their place at the end. Voters at the head of the line, those who were closest to picking up their ballot, told the Globe they'd been waiting an estimated 30 to 45 minutes or more. Some said they had left the church earlier because of long lines and had already returned once or even twice to try to find a time when the lines were shorter.
The lines there were beginning to frustrate some voters. Bredshadt DiEre, who is a registered voter in Carthage, drove to Joplin to take her elderly mother to vote at St. Paul's. But after about 30 minutes of standing in line, the women persuaded the voters behind them to save their place so that they could sit in a cluster of chairs against the wall.
"They need more assistance for the elderly or people with disabilities," said DiEre, who like her mother has a disability that prevents her from standing for long periods of time.
About a dozen voters were in line when the polls opened at the Mills Anderson Justice Center on the Missouri Southern State University campus, poll worker Gloria Noran said, and turnout had not let up by 12:30 p.m., when about 10 people were standing in line.
"Our line is actually short now," she said. "It's been all the way down the hall."
More than 620 ballots had been cast at the site by lunchtime, which Noran estimated was a higher total than the polling place would garner in an entire day during an average election.
Turnout at Joplin Association for the Blind, 311 S. Schifferdecker Ave., was "tremendous," poll worker Beth Riggs said. There weren't any lines at 2 p.m., but every voting booth was full, and more than 550 ballots had been cast by that time, which was well above average, she said.
"We've had more (votes cast) now than we'd get all day in many elections," she said. "I think it's going to be a record."
Voting at Fairview Baptist Church, 4300 S. Joplin Ave., also was on track to be strong, poll workers there said. About 400 ballots had been cast before noon, leading workers to estimate they could see turnout near 60 percent before the day was over.