COLUMBIA — As polls open at 6 a.m. Tuesday for the Missouri primary elections, the National Bikers Roundup will be gearing up for its 9 a.m. opening at the Boone County Fairgrounds.
An increase in vehicle traffic may interfere with voters trying to reach the polls. Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren pointed out that if the city is hosting an event of this size in conjunction with an election, it is better to do so when voter turnout is already expected to be low.
She also said that the sheriff’s office has made arrangements to re-route traffic in polling areas near the fairgrounds and that they are doing a “great job” of directing traffic. Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey could not be reached for comment.
Two polling locations near the fairgrounds, the Missouri National Guard Armory and the Mid-America Harley Davidson dealership, may be affected by traffic.
The Harley Davidson dealership should also be a popular spot for visiting bikers to check out. Steve Tuchschmidt, one of the owners of the dealership, said the business has made specific arrangements in case an influx of people becomes an issue.
"We have a polling area designated inside the dealership,” Tuchschmidt said, adding that it is the same size as it has always been. There will be a separate parking area for voters.
Tuchschmidt said that if the National Bikers Roundup has any impact at all on the primary election tomorrow, it might be an increase of traffic off the Lake of the Woods exit on 1-70 East near mile-marker 131.
"But I don’t anticipate any real traffic problems," he said.
The Missouri National Guard Armory — a polling location for precincts 17, 22 and 40 — is located at 5151 Roger I Wilson Memorial Drive, 1.2 miles from the Boone County Fairgrounds.
The Mid-America Harley Davidson dealership — a poll for precincts 23 and 41 — is located at 5704 Freedom Drive, near the Lake of the Woods exit, about 6.2 miles from the fairgrounds.
Despite efforts from the sheriff's office and polling locations, traffic may still become a problem for voters trying to reach the polls.
"People need to be patient with traffic," Noren said.