Editorials

With no early voting, Missouri election lines could be long Tuesday. Here’s what to do

Voters waited at the Waldo Branch Library in 2016’s general election.
Voters waited at the Waldo Branch Library in 2016’s general election. The Star

The good news? Voters are fired up. In fact, they’re so fired up that most of them are actually going to turn up and vote in a midterm election.

That’s saying something.

The Pew Research Center reported a few weeks ago that voter enthusiasm is at its highest level for a midterm in more than two decades. In Johnson County, voter registration hit an all-time record this time around with 419,400, according to Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker. Advance voting by mail is exceeding the 2016 pace, and that was a presidential election year.

That’s remarkable.

This brings us to Missouri. Show-Me State election officials are projecting that the number of voters showing up Tuesday will be the highest in more than 20 years for a midterm election. They’re expecting a turnout of 2.3 million people, which would equate to 55 percent of registered voters.

The last midterm election to top that mark was the 59 percent of Missouri registered voters who cast ballots in 1994 when Bill Clinton was president.

That brings us to the downside of all this pent-up voter enthusiasm. Those 2.3 million Missourians who cast ballots Tuesday will be doing so in one day. And they’ll be doing so in an election where the ballot is long and notably complicated.

Jackson County election commissioner Tammy Brown tells us that some voters casting absentee ballots are taking as long as 40 minutes to work their way through the form “if they walk in with no idea” and haven’t reviewed the ballot ahead of time.

If they know what they’re doing, it’s a 10-minute process, she said.

With the Missouri General Assembly consistently rejecting the idea of advance voting, the potential for significant logjams on Election Day of an hour or more in some locations is considerable, even likely. Across the country, 37 states have some form of early voting. But not Missouri.

Republicans who control the General Assembly have consistently rejected the idea, and that’s a shame. They are in a very real sense suppressing the vote in the belief that fewer voters gives the GOP a better shot at success.

Perhaps Tuesday’s elections will change the conversation next year in Jefferson City.

In the meantime, here’s what we advise: The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Consider voting between 10-11:30 a.m. and from 1:30-4 p.m. Brown says those tend to be slower times.

Also, check out the sample ballot on the Election Board’s Facebook page. That will get you prepared.

Brown said the board has pressed every available voting machine into service. “It seems like a presidential election,” she said. That’s great — until that wait in line gets too long.

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