Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door said this week it’s still too early to predict how many voters will turn out to cast ballots in the August 7 state primary.
A look at voter turnout figures from past August primaries in the county during presidential and gubernatorial election years show no predictable trend.
According to figures from decades worth of official state manuals, some of the highest turnouts in the county for August elections have been during election years in which an incumbent president is seeking re-election.
In 1992, roughly 36.6 percent of Franklin County voters cast Republican or Democratic gubernatorial votes in August.
That year, President George H.W. Bush was facing off against Bill Clinton, then the Democratic governor of Arkansas.
In the August primary that year, 9,430 Democratic ballots were cast versus 6,655 Republican ballots.
No Direct Impact on Presidential Race
Voters don’t choose a presidential candidate during August primaries, however — the Missouri presidential preference primary is typically held in February.
During the August election, voters have an opportunity to pick candidates for a party for the November general election.
Missouri has an “open primary” in which people can choose which party’s ballot they wish to cast in August.
Primary candidates for governor are chosen in August.
In 1992, no incumbent governor was seeking re-election.
Then Lt. Gov. Mel Carnahan won his primary and faced off with Secretary of State Roy Blunt in November.
In 2004, another year in which an incumbent presdient sought re-election, roughly 36.4 percent of registered Franklin County voters turned out at the polls in August to cast Republican or Democratic ballots.
A combined 23,865 ballots were cast — 12,569 Democrat and 11,296 Republican — of the county’s 65,556 registered voters.
That year differed from 1992 on the state level, however.
Democrat Bob Holden sought re-election, becoming the first Missouri incumbent governor to ever lose a primary.
Holden was beat out by then-Auditor Claire McCaskill, who lost the November election to then-Secretary of State Roy Blunt.
The only other election year with an incumbent president and Missouri governor both seeking re-election in recent history, 1996, throws a wrench into the trend.
That year, President Clinton faced Republican Bob Dole while Gov. Mel Carnahan was challenged by Auditor Margaret Kelly.
In the August primary, only 16.7 percent of Franklin County voters cast ballots for the two major parties.
That August, 3,281 Democratic ballots were cast versus 5,564 Republican ones.
As of that October, the county had 52,966 registered voters, according to the Missouri Centralized Voter Registration list.
No Incumbent, Little Interest
August elections in years in which no incumbent president or governor is running for office seem to generate little voter interest in the county.
In 2000 only about 15 percent of registered Franklin County voters cast August ballots.
Of the 9,829 ballots cast in the gubernatorial race, 4,011 were Democratic and 5,818 for the GOP.
The county had roughly 61,893 registered voters at the time.
That year Democrat Bob Holden defeated Republican Jim Talent for governor in November.
Holden replaced Roger Wilson, who served only a few months as governor following the death of Carnahan in October 2000.
In the presidential race, Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, lost to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, a Republican.
The last election cycle without an incumbent seeking the top federal or state office had a similarly low turnout here.
Only 20.8 percent of Franklin County voters cast August ballots. The majority, 8,788, were Republican ballots, while 5,225 Democratic ballots also were cast.
At the time, the county had 67,505 registered voters.
In November of that year, Jay Nixon, a Democrat, beat out Kenny Hulshof, a Republican, for governor. Barrack Obama, a Democrat and the current president, beat Republican John McCain in the race for the White House.
The following is a list of offices for which candidates file with the Missouri secretary of state for an August primary:
U.S. senate; governor; lieutenant governor; secretary of state; attorney general; treasurer; U.S. representatives; state senators; state representatives; and various judges, depending on appointment date.
The following are positions for which candidates would file with their local election authority:
Associate circuit judges; county commissioners; county sheriff; county assessor; county treasurer; county auditor; county collector; public administrator; and township or ward committeeman and committeewoman.