Today marks the beginning of a busy spring election season in Pettis County, with two elections hosted within three weeks of each other this year.
Today is the first day of absentee voting for the March 15 Presidential Preference Primary election in Missouri, and the last day to register to vote for that election is Feb. 17. The last day to request a mailed ballot is March 9. Military ballots have already been mailed.
“It’s a party election. In the State of Missouri we have four established parties — Constitution, Libertarian, Democrat and Republican,” said Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada. “… It’s really a party-affiliated election. … It’s a primary and you’re going to vote for the person you want to represent you in your party.”
Voters will be required to choose a party to vote March 15 to receive the correct ballot.
“If you’re hardcore Republican and you want to pick a Democrat ballot because, No. 1 you can, and if you like those candidates better, you can,” La Strada said.
La Strada said voter turnout for the presidential preference in Pettis County was low in 2012 with about 6 percent, but was much higher in 2008 with almost 30 percent turnout, most likely due to no incumbent. He said he’s waiting until other caucuses vote and once absentee ballots start coming in to make any predictions for 2016 voter turnout.
For citizens who would like to participate in absentee voting but can’t stop by the Pettis County Courthouse during business hours, La Strada’s office will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 12.
“We’re not an early voting state, but we encourage if you feel you’re not going to make it to your polling location — you’re going to be out of town, whatever the situation is — be sure to call our office and learn more about absentee voting,” La Strada said.
Registered voters can expect to receive an election reminder in the mail with information about when and where to vote. Citizens who have signed up for Nixle alerts from the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office can also expect to receive email/text reminders about election dates.
“Hopefully that will help increase turnout,” La Strada said. “… We’re trying to use social media as well. Any way we can get the word out. We’re going to continue to do positive changes to increase voter turnout and education so people can realize what’s going on in the election process.”
Absentee voting begins Feb. 23 for the April 5 municipal election, and the last day to register to vote for that election is March 9. The last day to request a mailed ballot is March 30. La Strada’s office will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 2 for absentee voting.
Two Fridays prior to the municipal election, March 25, is the last day to register to be considered a write-in candidate.
Looking ahead to the Aug. 2 primary, candidate filing for county elections runs Feb. 23 to March 29. All filing will take place at the Pettis County Clerk’s office in the Pettis County Courthouse. La Strada reminded potential candidates that they must have Form 5120 filled out, an affidavit stating candidates have paid all their taxes, to file for candidacy.
For more information about 2016 elections, contact La Strada’s office at 660-826-5000 ext. 918, his cell phone at 660-281-7767 or stop by the office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Citizens can also like “Pettis County Elections Office” on Facebook for updates. Ballots can be viewed online at pettiscomo.com.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.