By Monte Miller
Missourian Staff Writer
With one of the longest ballots in state history this November, voters may want to plan a little extra time at the polls.
In addition to a heated U.S. Senate race, which is expected to draw out voters, the Nov. 6 ballot in Franklin County will feature a congressional race, four state representative races, a state Senate race and numerous uncontested races for county offices.
And, there’s more.
Voters also will be asked to decide four constitutional amendments and three additional propositions ranging from minimum wage to marijuana to a gas tax.
The seven ballot initiatives make the November ballot crowded.
In fact, the November 2018 ballot will feature the third highest number of ballot initiatives in the last 108 years.
Maura E. Browning, director of communications for Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, told The Missourian every election jurisdiction has a unique ballot, but the large number of initiatives is uncommon.
“There may have been times when many local issues were on the ballot, along with state and federal candidate races so that ballot length may have been very long,” she said. “In terms of the number of ballot measures on the ballot, there were 11 ballot measures in 1910. In more recent history, there were eight in 1998 and six in 2016.”
Browning added the secretary of state is required to run the actual text of each ballot measure in newspapers.
“One initiative petition we have been required to print, along with the other six ballot measures, was 49 pages (8 ½ by 11) long by itself,” Browning said. “It would be easy to say that this is the longest length of ballot measure text we have ever had to run in newspapers prior to an election.”
The full text of those ballot measures will run in The Missourian, taking up 11 newsprint pages, later this month.
Franklin County Clerk and chief election officer Debbie Door said her office is already preparing for the potential of longer waits due to increased interest and the lengthy ballots voters will be considering.
Door stopped short of giving an exact turnout prediction this far out, but did say she believes this Election Day will be a big one.
She added the anticipated larger midterm turnout has already prompted her staff to treat this election the same as they would a presidential year.
“Usually things move pretty quick, but things may slow down a little bit,” she said. “We will be putting out more voting booths, that will give voters more time to read over their entire ballots without causing lines.”
Door added she does not anticipate lines being any longer at 7 p.m. when polls usually close, but said if voters are in line by 7 p.m., they will be allowed to vote.
In the 2016 presidential election, voter turnout in Franklin County reached a record level at 71 percent, with just under 51,000 ballots cast.
In the 2014 midterm election, voter turnout was just 38 percent, with 26,337 ballots cast out of the 69,318 registered voters in the county at that time.
Going back to 2012, which also was a presidential year, voter turnout was 67 percent, with 47,162 ballots cast of the 69,684 registered voters.