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A jump in absentee votes does not mean a change in election outcome

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A man speaks with staff at the Boone County Clerk's Office


It has been one week since mail-in ballots were sent out and absentee voting began in Missouri. Both Cole and Boone Counties have already seen a large amount of people vote absentee.

As of Tuesday, 561 people had voted absentee in the Cole County Clerk's Office. The Boone County Clerk's Office has received 1,415 absentee ballots out of 12,117 requested. In 2016, Boone County voters requested 6,252 absentee ballots for the entire six week absentee period.

"We've seen a lot of voters coming into the office to vote absentee, far more than the numbers from 2016, and we've had a lot of people requesting mail-in ballots and mailed absentee ballots, so it's definitely higher numbers than what we've seen in past elections," said Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon.

More than 1,000 people have already come to the Boone County Government Building to vote absentee.

Lennon said part of that is people concerned about their safety during the Coronavirus pandemic.

"Also, I think people are just really invested in this election. There's a lot of attention being paid to it, and like any other presidential election year there's just a lot of enthusiasm so people are coming in and ready to cast their ballot," she said.

Peverill Squire is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri.

He said even though many people are voting before election day, it is unlikely anything that happens between now and election day would change their minds.

"I think most voters know well in advance of the election how they're going to vote, and so there are relatively few real undecided voters," Squire said.

He said many of the people who are undecided are also undecided about whether they want to vote at all.

Tuesday night is the first presidential debate. Squire said even before these typical campaign trail events, most people have decided who they will cast a vote for.

"It's unlikely that voters are going to learn anything tonight that they didn't know already. There's a possibility of course that one of the candidates may do something outrageous, which causes people to perhaps rethink things," he said.

Squire noted, in the presidential election, most people have been familiar with President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Joe Biden's political views for years.

He said even as new information comes out about candidates before the election, that is also unlikely to change the way people would have voted. He did say it could motivate or discourage people from voting if they have not already.

The Boone County Clerk's Office is providing curb-side voting until Nov. 2. Lennon said a lot of people were coming in to drop off mail-in ballots, and it provides a way for staff and voters to more easily social distance.

Voters in Boone County will also have chances to drop off their absentee ballots on several weekends.

October 3: Hickman High School parking lot (look for the DBRL Bookmobile, Jr.)
October 4: Douglass High School (Park Avenue side)
October 10: Southern Boone Primary School parking lot (look for the DBRL Bookmobile, Jr.)
October 17: Rock Bridge High School parking lot (look for the DBRL Bookmobile, Jr.)
October 24: Centralia High School parking lot (look for the DBRL Bookmobile, Jr.)
October 25: Douglass High School (Park Avenue side)

Lennon said so far the clerk's office has not had issues with the rush of people voting absentee.

"We've been preparing for this since even before the August election so things have been going really smoothly. This is our first day doing the curbside voting outside the office and it's been going really well so we're really happy and excited with the number of voters and how it's been going so far," she said.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


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