Election Day in Carthage

As the polls opened:
Lines formed at Carthage’s polling places as Carthage residents got up early and braved temperatures in the 30s to vote on Tuesday.
It’s a sight that Mayor Mike Harris found inspiring, yet frustrating when he went to vote at the Ward 2 polling place at Memorial Hall at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“I wish there were lines like this every election day,” Harris said. “Generally I’m voter number two or three and it makes me wonder why is it always this way, people only get out for the presidential election and they don’t get out for the municipal and other elections. Every election day is important, it doesn’t matter if the president is on the ballot or the mayor.”
Chris Johnson, Carthage, said he was not surprised to be waiting in line at about 6:15 a.m. at Memorial Hall. He stood and chatted at the back of the main hall with Greg Hinderliter with about 15 people in front of them.
Johnson said he was ready for the lines; that’s why he got out early to get voting off his list of things to do on Tuesday.
“Now I can quit worrying about it,” Johnson said. “I wanted to get it done so if something popped up later in the day, I wouldn’t be worrying about having time to vote.”
Johnson said the presidential race was important, but there were other issues on the ballot that interested and concerned him.
“There were too many people upset about too many things for them not to come out and vote,” Johnson said. “A lot of people probably came out to vote for president but there were other issues on the ballot as well. Proposition B is a big thing; I know a lot of smokers and non-smokers who are really upset about that.”
Hinderliter said he got up early to make sure he could vote before going to work.
“I wanted to beat the big crowds so I could make it to work on time,” he said. “A lot of people emphasized the presidential race, but people don’t think about the state races and they have a more direct impact on us than the president.”
A glitch with one of the vote counting computers forced poll workers to switch it out for a spare at about 6:30 a.m., causing about a five-minute wait for some people who had finished voting.
Sally Armstrong, a poll watcher for the Republican Party said a glitch like that might have been a concern in a larger city, but she wasn’t worried.
“If I didn’t know these people, I might wonder what’s going on, but I know them and I trust them,” Armstrong said. “That’s the beauty of living in a small town.”
Lines at both the polling places were moving along smoothly as poll workers, using their new iPads to confirm identification, worked their way through the process.
Armstrong said it was easier when people brought their voter ID card.
“It’s been steady traffic, but it seems like people are stymied when they don’t have their card,” Armstrong said. “They’ll learn to bring that card so the election workers can use that bar code to find them. You bring your card if you don’t want to stand around.”
Dana Cook, Carthage, said there were a number of issues that got her to get up early to get out and vote.
“The moral issues were a big thing for me,” Cook said. “I would never expect government to bail me out financially, or take care of me financially, so some of those moral issues are highest on my list.
“I also work in health care so the cigarette tax issue was important. I supported Proposition B.”
Daniel Moss, Carthage, said he didn’t do as much research as he would have liked on some of the issues.
“I voted mostly Republican for the different offices,” Moss said. “I took my best guess on those issues.”
Moss said he got to Memorial Hall shortly before 6 a.m., when the polls opened, and there was a small group of people waiting.
“You could say that was inspiring,” Moss said. “People wanted to make their voices heard in Southwest Missouri.”

At the lunch hour:
By 1 p.m., more than 2,400 voters in Carthage had cast ballots.
The Carthage Nazarene Church, where voters in Ward 4 cast ballots, was leading the pack, as they usually do, with 753 ballots, followed by Ward 5 at the Fairview Christian Church with 555 ballots cast; the Lighthouse, where Ward 3 votes, had 465 ballots cast.
Wards 1 and 2, both at Municipal Hall, had 296 and 370 ballots cast respectively before 1 p.m.
Poll workers at all precincts reported steady traffic with heavy lines early and at lunch. All the workers said they expected a big crunch of voters between 5 p.m. and when the polls closed at 7 p.m.
Voters in general were complimentary of the voting process in Jasper County, saying it was easy and moved them through the process quickly.
“It was a very easy ballot to read, plain and I could read it without my glasses,” said Peg Gouverneur, who voted at the Nazarene Church.
John Smelser, who voted at Fairview Christian Church with his wife, Michele, called the process “very streamlined and efficient.”
“It’s the easiest process I’ve been involved in, and I’m 52 years old,” John Smelser said. “The iPads were cool. They worked very well. I’m into computers so I liked it.”
Michele Smelser said the vote for president was the most important thing on the ballot for her, followed closely by Proposition B, the proposal to raise taxes on cigarettes from 17 cents a pack to 90 cents.
“People need to realize that cigarette smoking is an addiction and it is killing them,” Michele Smelser said. “My dad died of cigarette smoking, of lung cancer, and it was not a pretty sight.”
Wayne Smith, who cast his ballot at the Lighthouse, said he was particularly interested in the Jasper County Sheriff’s race between Republican Randee Kaiser and Libertarian John Karriman, as well as the presidential race.
“Proposition B, the tobacco tax stood out to me as well,” Smith said. “The voting process was very quick and efficient. It was simple, all I had to do was show my voter ID, sign the computer and I had my ballot.”
Smith encouraged everyone to come out and vote, calling it “a responsibility for being an American.”
“And we need to fulfill that responsibility,” Smith said.

Election day on Social Media:
People commenting on The Carthage Press Facebook page reported some minor difficulties, but overall said their voting experience was positive.
“Although I have a voters registration card I was told I was inactive,” said Patricia Morgan-Moore on our Facebook page. “I had no address change or any other changes that would prompt an inactive status. I was allowed to vote but was delayed for about 10 minutes as they sorted it out. Go Vote!!”
Steve Leibbrand, a Carthage City Council Member, posted that he was usually among the first 10 people in Ward 3 when he votes, but this time he was No. 132.
“Not mad at all,” Leibbrand posted. “Smooth going this morning. Great group of election workers. Let’s go Carthage . . . get out and vote!”
Stephanie Cox said she got to her polling place when it opened at 6 a.m. and was still No. 65 to turn in her ballot.
“I like the duel checking to make sure we have the right ballot,” she posted. “Only thing I really did not like was the fact that they had only one quad set up for privacy voting, everyone else had to sit at tables with others. I like being in my voting box.”
Michelle Hansford said she “loved the iPads.”
“Have never seen so many folks at the polls before,” she added.
To comment, go to The Carthage Press Facebook page.