Adair County already going to polls, expecting high turnout in Nov. 3 elections

As Nov. 3 approaches, the Adair County Clerk’s Office is expecting a high voter turnout with voters preparing to cast in-person, absentee and mail-in ballots. 

As of Oct. 20, 1,378 people have voted early at the Adair County Annex Building, 866 absentee ballots have been sent out via mail, and 85 mail-in ballots have been requested and sent out.

Adair County Clerk Sandy Collop said the County Clerk’s Office has been extremely busy this election cycle. She said her office has already received 696 of the mailed absentee ballots and 42 of the mail-in ballots back.

“Right now we’re just about where we were four years ago, but our numbers are growing everyday,” Collop said.

Collop said the County Clerk’s Office has been tracking requests for mail-in and absentee ballots, sending them out, then logging them back in whenever they are mailed back. Those ballots will be counted first on election day. 

“I think we’re going to have exceptional turnout,” Collop said. “I’m guessing it’s going to be one of the biggest I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in office.” 

Collop said she fully expects to have all ballots counted and results released the night of Nov. 3 despite the likely higher turnout. 

Collop explained the increase in turnout might be a result of people paying more attention to news media and current events. She said Adair County has many newly registered voters ready to participate in this election.

“Last week we had two people who were 80 that came in and registered to vote — and they’ve never been registered in their life, but now they have decided that it’s time that they start participating in the voting process,” Collop said. 

Collop said many younger voters have registered for the first time this election as well. 

Freshman Henry Young cast his first vote this election and chose the absentee ballot to vote in St. Charles County, where he’s from. Young said the absentee process was fairly easy but could be confusing and lengthy.

“I could see how some people would be almost discouraged from voting just because of how long the process is, but it’s important,” Young said.

Young explained he made voting a top priority this year and, even if he was still living in his hometown, he probably would have requested an absentee ballot because of the pandemic.

 To get registered and request his ballot, Young said he started by Googling “How do I vote?” This search led him to where he filled out some personal information. Then the site mailed him registration papers, which he filled out and sent to the elections office in St. Charles County. When the office was able to send out ballots, Young said he received his right away. 

The voting process wasn’t all smooth sailing though. Young said he initially forgot to have his ballot notarized.

“I passed the instruction of having somebody sign for you, so I had gone to turn in the absentee ballot,” Young said. “Three days later in the mail, there was the absentee ballot back with a sticky note on it saying, ‘You have to get this notarized.’”

Young was able to correct this error and successfully cast his ballot. He said his motivation to vote has been ever-present, but the option of absentee and mail-in have made him more confident in his decision to participate in the process.   

In Adair Country, Collop said the use of the Annex Building for early absentee voting is new this year. Previously, absentee voting was conducted at the Courthouse in the County Clerk’s Office, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, there isn’t enough space in the office to conduct the process as usual.

The Annex Building is set up like a usual polling location and equipped with the same COVID-19 precautions voters can expect to see on election day. Nov. 3, in person voters can expect a fresh stylus to sign in and a new pen to mark the ballot. Plexiglass panels were also installed between poll workers and voters.

Collop said the funding for these COVID-19 precautions came from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office in the form of a grant provided to every county in the state. The amount each county received was based on the number of residents that voted in the 2016 election, so Adair County received around $22,000. Collop said the entirety of this grant has been used to purchase new equipment, hire more workers and provide COVID-19 precautions at polling locations. Collop said any additional costs will be covered by the County but hopes that it will be reimbursed by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act

All polling locations close at 7 p.m. Nov. 3. Voters in line at a polling location at 7 p.m. will still be permitted to vote.