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Columbia Missourian

County Clerk says Tuesday turnout could break record

By Roseann Moring
April 2, 2010 | 5:52 p.m. CDT

City and school races and issues should drive many voters to polls

COLUMBIA — Columbia and Boone County residents on Tuesday will go to the polls to participate in one of the bigger municipal elections in recent memory.

Columbia voters will elect a new mayor to replace 15-year incumbent Darwin Hindman and choose City Council members for the Third and Fourth wards. They’ll also vote on five charter amendments and decide the fate of the controversial Proposition 1, which asks whether the city should put surveillance cameras downtown.

In the Columbia School District, voters will choose three school board members: two for three-year terms and one for a one-year term. Voters also will decide whether to approve the largest bond issue in the school’s history. It’ll take a 57 percent majority to pass it.

Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren is bracing for a big day.

“We may have a record turnout countywide," Noren said.

Although the municipal vote in Columbia – and in towns and school districts across the county — won’t rival the turnout of a presidential election, Noren said she expects as many as 27,000 voters will cast ballots. That would be roughly one-third of active registered voters in the county.

Noren said voters should be aware that there’s a good chance their polling place changed since the presidential election of November 2008.

All voters should have received a sample ballot and a new voting card in the mail, and that packet should include information about where to vote. If you’re unsure, you can call the clerk's office at 886-4375 or go to its Web site to find your polling location.

Noren said the combination of City Council and school board elections, along with the $120 million school bond issue and the downtown camera question, that will drive large numbers to the polls. She said turnout probably will be much lighter in rural areas without high-profile races or issues.

The county has distributed almost 700 absentee ballots, Noren said, and 480 have been cast. The number of people who have signed up to always get an absentee ballot has climbed in recent years.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.