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City voters should expect lines; big Missouri turnout forecast

CITY HALL – Tomorrow is the day, finally: Election Day. “I think you all know that,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said Monday afternoon in her press conference. “I think most of us are happy that Election Day is here, and that tomorrow – or soon, I should say soon, we’ll know the results.”

The city’s hundred or so polling places are safe and fair, she reassured residents. Police officers and poll workers will be there, and she reminded voters to keep a safe six-foot distance from others and to wear face masks.

“We don’t know how long the lines will be,” she said. She cited text messages from some friends who told her about “some pretty long lines” at the city’s five remote voting locations where absentee ballots could be cast in person until 5 p.m. Monday.

Krewson offered an interesting statistic: In the city, 43,000 people have already cast their ballots. In the 2016 election, a total of 133,000 votes were cast; in 2012 the number was 144,000; and in 2008 (the first election of President Barack Obama) 159,000 ballots were cast in the city. So on Election Day 2020, Krewson expects at least 100,000 people to be voting.

This year’s ballot is extensive, she noted, so it may take voters a few extra minutes to complete. Krewson encouraged residents to read through the entire ballot beforehand; there’s a sample on the city’s website. Coming to the polling place well prepared will speed the process for everyone.

“Hopefully by tomorrow night we’ll know the results of the Missouri elections,” she said, even if we don’t know the national results.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Meanwhile,  Missouri election officials are predicting the state’s largest voter turnout in decades.

Local election jurisdictions are expecting more than 3.2 million people to cast ballots in Tuesday’s general election, according to figures provided by the secretary of state’s office. That would amount to 75% of the state’s 4.3 million registered voters.

If the predictions come true, that would be Missouri’s highest turnout rate since 1992, when 78% of registered voters cast ballots in a presidential election won by Democrat Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

The number of registered voters has grown considerably since then. The greatest total number of ballots cast in Missouri was 2.9 million in the 2008 election, when Barack Obama, also a Democrat, was elected president.

As of Sunday, about 828,000 Missouri voters already had returned absentee or mail-in ballots. That’s nearly three times as many absentee ballots as were counted in the last presidential election. State officials relaxed absentee voting requirements and established a special mail-in ballot option this year because of concern about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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