By SEAN McCARRELL (WARRENSBURG, MO., digitalBURG) – Election Day, Nov. 6, is less than five weeks away, and voters have less than one week to register.
Johnson County Clerk Diane Thompson is trying to get the word out that anyone living in the Johnson County area, including University of Central Missouri students, can register to vote locally. The voter registration deadline is Wednesday, Oct. 10.
“We had a lot of confusion, and a lot of angry college kids in 2008,” Thompson said of students who were not familiar with the process four years ago. “Our office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and we will be open until 5 p.m. on October 10.”
Voter registration takes place inside the Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Warrensburg. Applications for voter registration can also be picked up at the Johnson County License Bureau and the Department of Family Services.
People who register to vote must have a valid photo identification that includes a signature. These forms of identification include a driver’s license, passport, student ID issued by a school in Missouri, military or non-driver’s ID. Photo IDs are not required to vote, only the registration card issued to each voter, which will be mailed seven to 10 days after registration.
People who want to vote absentee have until Oct. 31 to request an absentee ballot. All ballots are due when the polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Thompson said people who do not permanently live in Warrensburg can vote absentee here.
“For college students who do not live in Warrensburg, who are already registered, they must request an absentee ballot from their home county,” she said.
The county will then mail the absentee ballot to the voter, which the voter must mail back.
“Once you register, you are registered,” Thompson said. “No one has to re-register to vote.”
If a voter who has registered to vote in their home county wants to vote in Johnson County this election, they must notify their previous county of their new registration. In order for the previous county to forward voter registration to the new address, they must have the signature of the voter.
As far as the turnout numbers go, Thompson said voter registration is up in Johnson County.
“We have received a very large amount of registration applications from UCM,” Thompson said. “We actually have more registered voters now than we did in 2008, although we have not seen quite the fervor we did four years ago.”
Thompson and her staff will process the absentee ballots on Election Day.
“We expect to process between 3,500 and 4,000 absentee ballots,” Thompson said. “We had about 1,200 absentee ballots submitted in 2010, which was not a presidential election year.”
UCM students run the gamut from those who are enthusiastic about voting, to those who do not know how to register to vote. Many students, like seniors Gabe Lopez and Aaron Jamieson, are somewhere in the middle.
Lopez, a native of Blue Springs, is registered to vote back home, and says he plans to vote here.
“I think I’ll probably vote absentee, because it seems easier than driving back on Election Day,” Lopez said. “I voted in 2008, but our high school was a (polling place), so that made it really easy.”
Jamieson, a native of Cassville, Mo., is registered to vote, but does not plan to exercise that right.
“I registered to vote when I got my license renewed, when I turned 21,” Jamieson said. “I renewed my license here, but I am registered to vote back home in Cassville.”
About the election itself, Jamieson said, “I actually don’t plan on voting. I really don’t follow it all that much.”
For those who are interested, the public is invited to follow the election results reported live at the Johnson County Courthouse on Election Night. Candidates and their supporters are likely to be on hand.
All results will be updated on the Johnson County Web site, www.jococourthouse.com/Latest_Election_Results.htm.