COLUMBIA — Boone County voters are joining others across Missouri on Tuesday in heading to the polls to pick party nominees for a range of federal, state and county political offices.
The ballot includes dozens of candidates from four political parties. Winners of the primary will move on to the general election in November. Voters were also deciding Tuesday whether to approve Amendment 2, a proposed change to the Missouri Constitution that supporters say would secure religious freedoms.
Missourian reporters have been visiting with voters at polling places Tuesday to get their thoughts on the election. Here’s what they had to say.
On Amendment 2: "I think that those provisions are already in our schools ... They can already do that."
— Paul Botch, graduate student, 33
It's the third time Sarah Catlin, 37, has brought her son, Victor, with her to vote.
Victor, 3, is a tow-headed boy who clings to his mother's hand, hides his face briefly against her pant-clad thigh and then wanders off toward the car, letting his mother know he's ready to get back in the car with his father.
"I usually leave him in the car," Catlin said. This is the first time he's come inside with her. "He said 'I want to come and see' ... He even wanted to help me fill out the ballot. I had to tell him no."
Catlin came out because of the race for Lieutenant Governor.
"There are three fabulous women running for Lt. Gov., which I think is unfortunate because they'll likely split the vote. I wanted to come out and support them."
— Sarah Catlin, 37, paralegal
"I was pretty motivated (to come out to vote) by the Republican candidates (for U.S. Senate) and the constitutional issue, Amendment 2 … I voted for Sarah Steelman because she was closer on the issues to how I am. It was difficult to choose because they were all so close on the issues. I could have gone with any of them."
— Glenn Davis, 58, agricultural adviser for farm programs for the Missouri Department of Agriculture
"I came out because our vote is important. I was interested because of the lieutenant governor race and candidates."
— Carolyn Kidwell, 61, administrative assistant with the Surgery-Vascular Department at MU
"I usually do (come out to vote). It's a habit. Ever since I could vote, I have."
— Dave Vrana, 53, works for Columbia/Boone County Health Department
"It's more about the initiative (Amendment 2) than the candidates. I am saying no. Students already have these rights … It's separation of church and state, which is something we have little of."
— Elise Taggart, 48, therapist in St. Louis
"I basically came out for the Democratic lieutenant governor race. I questioned why I should come out to vote this morning because there was very little (to vote for) on the Democratic side."
— Jennifer Gwinner, 35, pre-school teacher
"I voted against (Amendment 2) because I don't know where it's going to go ... I voted against it even though I'm religious and believe in (religious freedom) wholeheartedly."
— Herb Hunt, 79, retired
Even though Alberta Gilpin lives in Ashland and could not vote at Parkade Baptist Church, she said she was still helping the poll workers at the church. Gilpin said she spent part of the morning removing signs from the church's front lawn even though the church had told election workers that signs were not allowed.
"It looks like the church is endorsing the candidates, but we're not. This is private property. It's happened in the past, but it wasn't as bad as this. I pulled 10 up just now."
Gilpin added there was one sign she could not remove because the pole it was on had been stuck in the ground to far.
— Alberta Gilpin, 70, director of education at Parkade Baptist Church
"(I voted because) I always do. I don't go with the crowd that stays at home."
"You have all the negative stuff on TV, but I want to hear what you're going to do if you win — that would be nice. … How can you prove what they say (in the media)?"
— Ruth Gillum, 82, retired
"I think we really have to change what's going on in our country. We need to get this deficit under control. I'm just kind of getting ready for November."
— Stan Kline, 73, retired
“(Lieutenant governor candidate) Sara Lampe is a strong advocate for an interest of mine, gifted education."
— Jake Geissman, Columbia Public Schools administrator
"I'm debating this religious issue (Amendment 2). Although I'm very ecumenical, I don't try to push Christianity on anyone."
— John Prenger, 64, pastor at Charismatic Episcopal Church
"I think it's my civic duty to vote. I'm most interested in the U.S. Senate race. I don't want McCaskill to win."
— Roger Caffrey, 62, retired
"I'm interested in a couple candidates: Judy Baker (for lieutenant governor) and Janet Thompson (for Northern District Boone County commissioner) … Making 400 percent interest from payday lenders is very important for our citizenry, and I think it's the most pressing issue that those two are dealing with."
— Joe Gorman, 60, attorney
"I'm interested in McCaskill, but she's not having much of a problem. I also don't think we need to have Amendment 2."
— Jo Ladwig, retired
“I thought (Amendment 2) was exclusive to some religions. It didn't seem as if it would be welcomed if a Muslim cleric wanted to use it to exercise his religion."
— Caitlin Meyer, 26, office support staff at MU
"The Amendment 2 issue is probably overkill … I don't get overly excited until after the primary race."
— Don Johnson, 77, retired from the U.S. military
"I was unaware of (Amendment 2) until I got in there and saw it on the ballot. I thought we decided already to have a separation between church and state."
— Dee Silney-Bah, 19, works at McDonald's
On Amendment 2: "I'm for keeping as many of our freedoms as possible."
On the Senate race: "Brunner's more electable, a little closer to the center."
— Sue Cunningham, 64, semi-retired
“I think the prayers in school amendment is unnecessary. There is no reason for legislatures to waste their time in it as we have law … in place. I hope they will get more real things done. Personally, I care more about jobs and the economy."
— Richard King, local nightclub owner
“I feel like it is a responsibility. I vote every election since I am eligible. I support Judy Baker because I think her policies will benefit local people, such as her health policies. She has years of expertise in the health-care industry. And I think it will better protect vulnerable people. I know she has integrity and confidence."
— Khaki Westerfield, facilitator for teaching fellow program at MU
Brandon Farris was handing out information on Putting Kids First, a countywide initiative to establish a sales tax to fund mental health services for children. The initiative is scheduled to appear on the November ballot.
"A lot of the kids here in Boone County are not getting the necessary services that they need, vital services. 'Putting Kids First' provides a lot of those services."
"The polls are a great place to get to where the voters actually are."
— Brandon Farris, 28, business operations specialist at Preferred Family Health Care.
"The lieutenant governor’s race is especially important to me today because I support Judy Baker … The reason I voted for Judy Baker is because she takes a strong stand on health care. Health care is really important to me."
— Louanne Andes, 55, social worker at Lincoln University
"I believe in God. I believe that every person should have a right to pray whether they want to or not. If they don't choose to then that's fine, but if you do choose to, then kids should have the right to stand up and pray. I think that if they let kids pray in school then there would be less gangs. I feel that if they let kids pray more openly that they would understand, and they would learn that it doesn't take gangs to live."
— Fannie Jackson, retired
"I think it's very important to vote. It's the least we can do to be active voters."
On Amendment 2: "I believe pretty much in everybody's right to practice whatever belief they want to."
On the 47th District House race: "(John) Wright was really making an effort to get out in the community and meet people. I voted for him."
— Robert Harris, 56, retired
"I think it's important to participate in the democratic process, and voting is the one way we are able to have a voice in making decisions on how our community is run. There aren't a whole lot of things in the primaries that I'm interested in. I'm more interested in some of the initiatives that are going to be on the ballot in the fall."
On the lieutenant governor race: "There were a lot of people up for lieutenant governor on the Democratic side, so I voted for Susan Montee."
On the U.S. Senate race: "I really hope that Claire McCaskill gets re-elected. I voted for her in the primary, and I'm going to vote for her again. I feel like at this point that she has good, down-to-earth practical values, and I feel like the Republicans and the conservative candidates for Senate are just too extreme."
On Amendment 2: "I think that there is no need to have the constitutional amendment, and I feel like it's probably just political pandering on some level."
— Leah Christian, 35, senior information specialist at MU
"I voted yes for the amendment. It looks to me that the kids should be able to do that (pray in school) … I feel strongly about some of the stuff in the fall and the candidates that will be on the ballot then."
— John Adams, 70, retired government employee
"I feel it's everyone's obligation to vote, even in the primary … I wanted to vote for my party, the Libertarian Party."
On Amendment 2: "I believe that all those rights are already covered, and it's just another duplication and layer of bureaucracy, and it's also worded such that it's not self-explanatory."
"I felt strongly to vote for a Libertarian because they are the best blend of Republican and Democratic ideas."
— Scott Campbell, 52, industrial hygienist at MU
"I wanted to vote no against (Amendment 2) because it's unnecessary. It's just stupid."
— Viola Hopkins, 74, retired
"I do feel strongly about the prayer at school issue. I think that's something that needs to happen … It's guaranteed in the Constitution that everyone should be able to express their religious beliefs, and I believe that our school system should definitely abide by that … I know we have separation between church and state, but the individual right to pray is one of our rights as citizens of the United States."
— Griff Gresham, 60, insurance sales
"This is the foundation of our democracy. Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, this is a chance to participate. It's an important responsibility we have as citizens."
— Clint Zweifel, 38, Missouri state treasurer
"I never miss an election. I'm particularly interested in the lieutenant governor race. I'm a Democrat, and there were several very good candidates running, but there was one in particular that I wanted to vote for."
— Laura Hutton, social worker
Missourian reporters Xinrui Zhu, Lindsey Armentrout, Marie French, Matthew Patane, Alicia Kortendick and Holland Baker contributed to this report.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.