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Morning Sun
  • Election turnout surprises officials

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    There was only one real problem at the polls on Tuesday.



    “Our main problem was we ran out of ‘I Voted’ stickers at some of the polling places,” said Liz Hart, Director of Elections Services.

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  • There was only one real problem at the polls on Tuesday.
    “Our main problem was we ran out of ‘I Voted’ stickers at some of the polling places,” said Liz Hart, Director of Elections Services.
    That was just further proof that Crawford County voters turned out to the polls in force for Tuesday’s general election.
    According to numbers provided by the Crawford County Clerk’s Office, slightly more than 61 percent of registered voters showed up to cast their ballots. With two presidential candidates locked in a dead heat and several hard-fought local campaigns, the stakes were high in voters’ minds.
    “There’s been a fabulous turnout,” poll worker Ken Bateman said at First Christian Church on Centennial Drive at about 2 p.m. Tuesday. “We’ve had a record number of people so far. We opened at 7 a.m. and people were lined up outside for 30 minutes before that. There hasn’t been a time when there weren’t people in here voting.”
    According to the County Clerk’s figures, 14,609 of the county’s 23,836 registered voters, or slightly more than 61 percent, showed up to vote. However, when one factors in the 690 provisional ballots that the county will have to canvass on Monday at 8:30 a.m. at the county courthouse, that could raise the turnout even higher. If all the provisionals were counted, that could raise the turnout by 3 percentage points.
    “I was shocked by the turnout,” Hart said. “After being in the polling places, I knew by 9 a.m. that it was huge. There were constant lines everywhere. Usually, we have waves, like a morning wave, a lunch break wave, and an after-work wave. Most polling places had constant people.”
    Last year, Bateman said, First Christian Church welcomed a total of about 1,700 voters by the time the polls closed at 7 p.m. As of 2 p.m. nearly 1,200 voters had passed through. And about 1,300 Pittsburg residents voted ahead of time at the county’s voting station in Meadowbrook Mall, Bateman said.
    The election was the second one held in which voters were required, under a new state law, to present photo identification to poll workers, but Bateman said it hadn’t caused any problems.
    “In the primaries we had some practice with that, and it was well-posted this year,” Bateman said. “We haven’t had very many people who have been upset about it.”
    The election was important to voters for various reasons. For Pittsburg resident Amy Lomshek, the election was spiritual.
    “For me, it’s about the attack on our religious freedom,” said Lomshek, who came to vote with her 5-year-old son, Joe.
    Pittsburg resident Nathan Laskowski was voting for the first time. Laskowski said he knew before he went in who he was going to vote for, and that exercising his right to vote was important.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s important because we’ve experienced four years under President Obama and people can show whether they like what he’s done or not,” Laskowski said.
    Exercising his right to vote for the first time was a meaningful experience, Laskowski said.
    “It was an excellent experience,” he said. “I’m glad I did and I’m going to keep voting in the future.”
    Pittsburg resident Josh Shay said he thought people turned out in such high numbers because of the contrast in presidential candidates.
    “I think that you have a significant separation between the candidates,” Shay said. “You see candidates at the opposite end of the spectrum, which I think energizes voters to turn out more.”
    At Countryside Christian Church, poll worker Pat Emerson said voters also were lined up outside well before the doors opened. At around 3 p.m., she said that the station had welcomed more than 1,000 voters, and their supply of “I Voted” stickers had run out. The stream had slowed, but the after-work rush still remained.
    “I think it will continue, but we’ll see,” Emerson said.
    Andrew Nash contributed to this report.

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