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Election 2020: County clerk expects high turnout for Nov. 3 election

Angie Talken
Linn County Leader

On Tuesday, any registered voter across the country who has not already taken part in early voting, absentee or mail-in voting opportunities will be heading to the polls in what many are calling a pivotal election on a national, state and local level.

“Voters have been very involved this election by making sure their voter registration is current, checking polling locations and voting absentee if they aren't able to make it to the polls on election day,” Linn County Clerk Suzan Stephenson said. “I believe news media, social media and political mailings have made people more informed and aware of the importance of their vote.”

Stephenson noted that while voter turnout is hard to predict she is estimating a 72% voter turnout across the county.

“It is always my hope that all eligible voters will turn out and so my office plans accordingly,” she said.

In advance of the August primary election state lawmakers made mail-in voting an option for some Missourians, because of the coronavirus.

Due to COVID-19 the request for absentee ballots has gone up, and the confusion over absentee and mail-in voting has caused some confusion, Stephenson said.

“To date, we have received over 700 absentee requests as compared to 455 absentee voters in the 2016 Presidential election,” she said. “The addition of a mail-in ballot to the August and November elections has caused some confusion. Our office has spent a great deal of time explaining the difference between the mail-in and absentee request so voters were able to choose the best option for them.”

There has been a slight increase in the number of registered voters since the March Presidential Preference Primary when 8,022 county residents were registered to vote. Stephenson said there are 8,178 registered voters in the county who are eligible to participate in this election.

There has only been one change in polling places in the county, which has 21 precincts and 13 polling places.

“Jackson Township was permanently combined with Clay/Parson Creek in Meadville after the August election primarily due to the shortage of poll workers and complicated further by the coronavirus,” Stephenson said.

In addition to answering questions about new voting options, COVID-19 has presented new concerns, not usually associated with voting and the voting process.

“One of the biggest challenges of COVID was making sure we were able to secure enough face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies for our poll workers and precincts,” Stephenson said. “The state was able to assist us in this effort of creating a safe voting environment.”

Stephenson said anyone voting in person on Tuesday should plan to spend additional time at their polling place and should be sure to keep safety in mind.

“With a heavier turnout expected on Tuesday, I would ask voters to possibly expect a longer wait, have your voter ID ready, be patient and practice social distancing.”

Locally, voters will be casting their votes for several county-wide offices, including the contested races for District 1 County Commissioner, District 2 County Commissioner and County Coroner.