Callaway County voter turnout higher than expected

Figures show Callaway is second closest margin between Right to Farm opposers, supporters

Voter turnout was better than what Callaway County Clerk Denise Hubbard anticipated for Tuesday’s primary election.

Looking at the ballot — which included a U.S. congressional race, the Callaway County clerk race and ballot measures — Hubbard said she expected the turnout to be at 24 percent, but Callawegians exceeded that with a turnout of 25.99 percent.

That’s a jump from the percentage in 2012 at 20.14 percent. In 2010, 24.44 percent of the county came to the polls and 23.83 percent turned out in 2008.

According to the county clerk’s office, Shamrock citizens had the highest voter turnout at 41.55 percent and Fulton’s Ward 3 was the lowest at 17.85 percent.

Hubbard added that election officials also noticed an increase in non-partisan ballots, which showed her people had an interest in the amendments and three local issues.

Callaway’s turnout was nearly 1 percent more than that of the statewide turnout of 25 percent. Election officials forecasted the statewide turnout to be 27 percent. Knox County in northeast Missouri saw the highest rate at 46 percent, which the city of St. Louis recorded the lowest at 16 percent.

How we compare on the issues

Amendment 1, the so-called Right to Farm amendment, passed statewide with 50.127 percent of the vote, according to the Secretary of State’s office. A recount is expected to take place.

Of Missouri’s 114 counties, 13 tallied a majority vote opposing Right to Farm. Callaway was one of those counties, but it was a close call.

In Callaway, 3,601 voters opposed the amendment while 3,547 supported it. That’s a 0.75 percent difference. Stone County was the only other county with a majority opposition to show a closer margin at 0.45 percent. Boone County’s margin was the second widest at 34.6 percent, and St. Louis City’s was the most at 47 percent.

Amendment 7, which called for a temporary a three-quarters cent sales tax to fund highway and road projects, also barely failed in the county. A total of 3,734 voters said “no” — only 309 more than the “yes” votes.

If Amendment 7 passed, Callaway County Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said it would have brought an additional $360,000 to the county’s road and bridge department, but the measure’s failure won’t have an affect on the county.

“It’s not like we’re losing it because we never had it,” Jungermann said.

Local issues

Jungermann told the Fulton Sun on election night that the county’s local use tax measure is likely to be on a future ballot as it failed with 3,966 opposing votes to the 2,987 supportive votes. He previously stated that the Department of Revenue estimated a loss of about $110,000 if the measure didn’t pass, but Jungermann said Wednesday he’s not certain that number is correct.

“All you can say is you’re definitely going to be short of revenue,” Jungermann said, adding that it’s money the county can’t afford to lose.

In 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled the Department of Revenue cannot collect local sales tax on out-of-state vehicle purchases, but Jungermann said legislative actions gave counties a temporary fix, allowing them time to pass use tax measures before that’s no longer possible come November 2016.

More education is one way the commission hopes to show voters how a use tax could benefit the county.

Like Jungermann’s feelings about the county use tax failure, city of Fulton Administrator Bill Johnson said he was also “disappointed” in the failure of the city’s use tax measure. Johnson said he’s uncertain if it will appear on a future ballot.

“It appears we didn’t do a good job informing (the public),” Johnson said.

He added that the use tax would give residents an incentive to purchase locally and will have “no negative consequences.”

Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson said he was happy with the outcome of the question if the prosecuting attorney’s position should be full or part time.

About 79 percent of voting Callawegians supported the county maintaining a full time prosecuting attorney. Based on Callaway’s population size and increase in felony and misdemeanor cases over the past decade, Wilson said being the prosecuting attorney is a full-time job.

“I was optimistic voters would recognize that and they obviously did,” Wilson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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