JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One week from Tuesday, Missourians will head to the polls to vote in the August primary, but unlike in previous elections, you could be voting for a different district.
More than 4 million Missourians are registered to vote on August 2, but one thing that’s different about this election is it’s a redistricting year which means district lines have changed in response to the census.
“We had congressional, we had state Senate, we had state House, we also could have had fire districts, sometimes school bands or water districts,” said Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said in an interview Friday. “The election authorities need to map out where they are in respect to where people live.”
Even before you head to the polls, you could have someone new representing you. You might still live at the same address as before, but every ten years, lines have to be redrawn because of the census.
“So, when people vote, they are voting for the water district they live in, they are voting for the congressman or woman that will be the congressman or woman for their district,” said Ashcroft.
Lawmakers waited until the final 24 hours of the session to pass a new congressional map, causing even more stress on county clerks.
“Not only do our election authorities have to worry about the lines and making sure people get the right ballots, but we need to make sure people know where they are,” said Ashcroft. “So, they’re not self-educating themselves about candidates in the 50 House District, but now they’ve been unknowingly moved to the 49 House District. We want them to know what district they are in so they know what candidates they should be researching.”
While this might not change your polling location, it could change who you’re voting for. Ashcroft said he is recommending all registered voters to double check with their local election authority before heading to the polls.
“They [voters] can request a sample ballot and that sample ballot will look identical to the ballot that they will be able to vote when they go into vote,” said Ashcroft. “They can actually take that sample ballot, fill it out with how you are going to vote, and then they can take that to the polling place if they desire.”
As for voter turnout for the August primary, Ashcroft said he is expecting numbers to be down.
“I’m saddened that even though it’s easy to vote in Missouri, we probably will have a minimum of 65% of the voters won’t participate,” said Ashcroft. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen over the last several decades a continual decline in the participation rate and I think that’s bad for our country.”
If you still have to return your absentee ballot, Ashcroft said he recommends returning it in person since we are so close to election day.
“It’s your decision, but I would heartedly suggest because we are close enough to the election, drive down to your local election authority and drop it off with your board of elections or your country clerk,” said Ashcroft. “We’ve had incidents where absentee ballots took more than 14 days.
As for U.S. Senate candidate John Wood, he won’t appear on the August ballot because he’s running as an Independent candidate. Ashcroft said his office still has to verify his 10,000 signatures. Wood’s campaign is required to turn in the signatures by August 1.
Ashcroft said local election authorities are still verifying signatures for Legal Missouri 2022, legalizing marijuana, and ranked-choice voting, Better Elections, initiative petitions. Each campaign said back in May they had enough signatures. County election officials have until July 26 to verify signatures, then Ashcroft’s office has until Aug. 9 to run audits and certify the questions for the November ballot.
You can find your polling place on the Secretary of State’s website, or by calling the office at 573-751-4936.