With numerous contested county races and possible Medicaid expansion, Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada is predicting a high voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary election.

La Strada said he is predicting 29-30% of registered voters in Pettis County will vote Tuesday. According to La Strada, the highest primary turnout in Pettis County was 2014 with 29.66%. The last primary in 2018 saw 28.8%.

Already, 2020 is proving to be a record year for absentee voting, with more than 850 ballots turned in as of Wednesday morning.

Absentee voting has been expanded to help those at risk for the coronavirus this year. The new law, which expires at the end of the year, allows those at-risk of the coronavirus — age 65 and older, living in a long-term care facility or with certain existing health problems — to vote absentee without getting their ballot notarized. Anyone else can cast a mail-in ballot but would need to get it notarized.

“Due to the pandemic, a lot of people are taking advantage of those categories and those people that are at-risk voters,” La Strada said. “We’ve been pretty busy dealing with that, in a good way. We want to make sure people are safe and getting their ballot in an efficient manner. People who got their ballot have to return it by mail or to the office by 7 p.m. Election Day.”

La Strada said his office is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Masks will be available and poll workers will use face guards. Social distancing markers will be posted at poll locations. Voters are not required to wear a mask but it is encouraged.

La Strada reminded voters they must select a political party ballot in the primary: Republican, Democrat, Constitution Party, Libertarian or Green Party. Voters can also choose a non-partisan ballot if they only want to vote on the Medicaid expansion question.

“Regardless of party, please get out and vote,” La Strada said.

Pettis County voters will have a lengthy August ballot, voting on eastern commissioner, western commissioner, assessor and treasurer. All of those candidates are Republicans, so the races will be decided Tuesday unless a write-in candidate is certified for the November General Election.

The ballot also includes statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, and attorney general. All four Missouri House of Representatives districts in Pettis County will be voting for a representative, although not all candidates are opposed in the primary, along with District 4 U.S. Representative.

Coroner Robert “Skip” Smith, Sheriff Kevin Bond, Public Administrator Charli Ackerman and Surveyor Kerry Turpin are unopposed in the primary. La Strada said he’s received many questions about the sheriff’s race, as Brad Anders has filed as an Independent candidate to challenge Bond, a Republican. However, Anders will not appear on a ballot until November.

Citizens who will be unable to visit their polling location on Election Day can absentee vote at the Clerk’s Office on the second floor of the Pettis County Courthouse from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.

La Strada said voters need to bring a form of identification and encouraged them to bring either a photo ID or the voter registration card they received in the mail.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Election Day. Voters can find their polling location, check to see if they are registered, and view a sample ballot at pettisclerk.com. For more information, visit pettisclerk.com or facebook.com/PettisCountyElectionsOffice or call the Clerk’s office at 660-826-5000 ext. 918 or La Strada’s cellphone at 660-281-7767.

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Nicole Cooke is the editor for the Sedalia Democrat, overseeing all newsroom operations and assisting with news coverage of Sedalia and Pettis County. She can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.

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