Voter turnout heavy
in Missouri

By Jon Dougherty

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Voter turnout in Missouri has been heavy, mostly because a key Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan and GOP challenger and former congressman Jim Talent has energized voters, analysts say.

In St. Louis alone, by 11 a.m. Central Time, nearly 30 percent of registered voters had cast ballots, election officials said – a figure cited as extremely high, especially for a non-presidential election. Election officials in St. Louis County said absentee ballots tallied 17,000 voters, up 50 percent from four years ago, when 11,000 cast absentee votes.

And in the state capital, voter turnout was equally heavy. One poll worker in Jefferson City said she had lines forming to vote at 5:45 a.m., 15 minutes before polls opened this morning.

Last week, Secretary of State Matt Blunt had predicted a heavy turnout, estimating that 45 percent of the state’s registered voters would show up at the polls.

Prior to Tuesday’s balloting, polls showed Talent with a slight lead over Carnahan, who was appointed to her position by then-Gov. Roger Wilson in 2000, after the winner – Gov. Mel Carnahan – died in a plane crash three weeks before the general election.

Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, was running against John Ashcroft, then an incumbent U.S. senator.

Carnahan won the race posthumously. State law allowed Wilson, promoted from lieutenant governor, to choose a senator. Mrs. Carnahan agreed to accept the appointment.

Democrats went into Tuesday’s balloting holding a razor-thin majority in the Senate. If Carnahan loses, the Democrats’ advantage would have to be made up in one or more other races.

Because Carnahan was appointed, the winner takes the seat immediately, rather than in January.

St. Louis was the site of voting controversy two years ago.

As WorldNetDaily reported, voting machines were abandoned, ballot boxes went unguarded, there was some confusion over poll closing times, there were accusations of criminal collusion and Republican candidates accused Democrats of distributing a misleading phone-banking message recorded by Jesse Jackson.