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Greene County Clerk Richard Struckhoff says despite that the February 7 election is technically a Presidential Primary election, he believes it’s the issues that may draw voters to the polls. That’s because Missouri’s Republican delegates will not be chosen through its primary this year—they will officially be chosen by a caucus system later in March. That’s why some candidates, including Newt Gingrich, didn’t even bother to register to appear on Missouri’s primary ballot.
“Well, the first thing that voters will hear about, of course, is that it’s still a Presidential Preference Primary. It’s somewhat controversial this year, for many reasons. And then we also have three cities—three of our largest cities in Greene County, in fact, who have issues on the ballot. The City of Springfield has the E-Verify issue. The city of Republic has some fee increases that they’re proposing for their voters. And the city of Willard has a sales tax issue on the ballot,” Struckhoff said.
Struckhoff said absentee ballots are now available for those who will be out of the jurisdiction on election day, or who are unable to make it to the polls. Homebound or out of town voters may request an absentee ballot by mail—and those requests must be signed and received in the clerk’s office no later than 5 pm on the Wednesday prior to the election. As for everyone else, the routine will be mostly the same.
“There are a couple of new polling places. Those folks who previously voted at National Heights Baptist Church—that’s 29A and 29B precinct—they are moving to the Berean Baptist Fellowship Hall. But we are sending new cards out to those folks, and it should have a red stamp on the card saying ‘Polling Place Change.’ The other is out in Ward 42—the people who voted at Ascension Episcopal Church—we’re actually combining their precinct with one at Springfield First Nazarene. The reason for that is that the church there is closing down, so we had to find another location,” Struckhoff said.
And as for that Presidential Preference Primary—why is Missouri holding a primary if its results don’t count? Well, by statute, the state has to hold this election. The legislature made some attempts to move it to March, because the National Republican Party threatened not to count all of the state’s delegates if it had the primary in February. The party worried that too many states had primaries in the same month. So, rather than lose half of their delegates to the National Convention, Missouri Republicans decided to hold a caucus system on March 17th.
Struckhoff said this has resulted in confusion among voters.
“I think the most common thing that we’re hearing, over the counter, at least, from voters who are coming to vote absentee, is they’re asking if this is going to count for anything. The answer to that is, ‘Yes.’ We’re going to count their votes. Whether or not it’s going to impact the Republican primary remains to be seen,” Struckhoff said.
For more information on the February 7thelection, you can call the Greene County Clerk’s office at 868-4055, or visit www.greenecountymo.org/election.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.