The races are set and the clock is ticking down to the Nov. 6 general election following Tuesday’s primary election.
Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada said voting went smoothly on Tuesday as 22 percent of registered Pettis County voters turned out to cast a total of 5,698 ballots — well above the 13 to 15 percent estimate the clerk’s office released prior to the election.
“I was looking at 13 to 15 percent based on past primaries,” La Strada told the Democrat on Wednesday. “That turnout is great. Now we are starting to get into election mode and people are getting engaged. I was happy to see that turnout in the election.”
La Strada said this year’s primary turnout exceeded the 2008 primary, which drew 15 percent of voters to the polls in what would eventually be one of the county’s busiest election seasons ever, with 70 percent of registered voters turning out in November.
Does Tuesday’s turnout signal another heavy voting season as President Barack Obama faces presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the race for the White House?
“We are expecting a high turnout, no doubt about it,” La Strada said. “People were very engaged in the 2008 election, so I think this one is going to be just as big, if not larger. We could go well above 70 percent in November.”
Turnout was highest in the Green Ridge/Elk Fork/Washington combined polling place, with 489 of 1,476 registered voters (33 percent) going to the polls, and Prairie township, where 538 of 1,783 registered voters (30 percent) cast a ballot. Turnout was lowest in Ward 2, second and third precincts, where only 134 of 1,349 registered voters (10 percent) came out to vote.
About 2 percent, or 436 voters, cast absentee ballots in Tuesday’s primary.
La Strada attributed higher-than-expected turnout to Amendment 2, the prayer amendment, which passed with 83 percent support statewide and 90 percent support in Pettis County, as well as a host of contested county races and the no-levy increase school bond issue in Green Ridge.
That measure, which will see $650,000 injected into capital improvements at school facilities, passed by a vote of 445 in favor (82 percent) to 100 opposed (18 percent).
The overwhelming support of the measure was welcomed by Green Ridge R-VIII School District Superintendent Cara Easter.
“We are very pleased with the outcome,” Easter said on Wednesday. “We had great community support and we are greatly appreciative of that.”
She said it will take about a year to complete the projects.
“I think the fact that it involved no tax increase helped. We are paying off the bond we had in place so it was a good time to bring this to voters and let them know there would be no increase involved with it,” Easter said.