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Absentee ballots could cause long Missouri election night

A Missouri political science professors is expecting a long election night as absentee votes are counted. In previous elections, Missouri counties posted absentee ballot results first. For Tuesday’s general election, that practice will vary from county to county. Terry Smith of Columbia College told Missourinet that the change presents a new challenge.

“It’s always quite informative — or has been — because absentee ballots get posted first,” he said. “You can see trends in that, ordinarily. The usual things that you rely on, we may not have those benchmarks like we usually do.”

Missouri’s local election authorities have received more than 723,000 mail-in and absentee ballots so far for the general election, compared to 282,000 counted in 2016.

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So far in Jackson County 60,000 people have mailed in their ballots or voted in-person.

“I still think we’re going to have a huge turnout at the poll because we had a huge increase in registration. So while there is a lot of people voting, there will still be a lot of people at the polls,” said Tammy Brown, director of the Jackson County Election Board.

The Jackson County Election Board has around 240,000 registered voters and is expecting 80% turnout in this year’s election.

In Boone County, where Smith lives, absentee ballots will be posted throughout the night.

“The old reliable markers aren’t going to be available for people like me who want to try to read the tea leaves a little bit early in the night,” said Smith.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft expects about 70 percent of Missouri’s voters to cast a ballot in the general election. Polling locations are open statewide from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Anyone in line by 7 p.m.. can still vote.

“We will not release any votes until all of our polling locations are closed,” he said. “We want everyone to know that if you voted at 6 o’ clock in the morning or if you voted exactly at 7 o’ clock or anywhere in between, your vote counts equally.”

Voters can still cast an absentee ballot in-person at their local election authority until 5 p.m. on Monday.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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