Absentee voting ‘terrible’ in Newton County

John Ford

Absentee balloting for Missouri’s upcoming presidential primary is going slow in Newton County.

According to Kay Baum, county clerk, there have been 138 absentee ballots cast so far, including those sent to members of the military. This number is roughly in accordance with the same time period as the 2004 presidential primary, during which 117 absentee ballots were cast.

“It is terrible,” Baum said. “Four years ago, the total was only about 8 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. We may have a little bit more percentage-wise, because there does seem to be quite a bit of interest, well, talk anyway.”

Therefore, Baum seemed optimistic that voting would enter double digits on Feb. 5, despite dismal showings in the past.

“I would hope it would be maybe 12 or 14 percent,” she said.

Since Newton County residents have no non-partisan issues on the ballot, they will have to declare which party’s ballot they would like to receive when they arrive at the polls: Democrat, Republican or Libertarian.

However, that isn’t the case in McDonald County, as voters can choose a non-partisan ballot, according to Barbara Williams, county clerk. A two percent use tax proposition is on the ballot to fund an addition to the McDonald County Jail. If voters approve the proposition, a tax of two percent of purchases from out-of-state companies over $2,000 annually would be assessed.

On the Democratic ballot, choices are Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady and current U.S. Senator from New York; Barack Obama, a U.S. Senator from Illinois; John Edwards, a former vice presidential candidate and U.S. Senator from North Carolina; Ralph Spelbring, a former pharmaceutical company chemist and current substitute teacher from Elkhart, Ind.; Dennis J. Kucinich, a U.S. Congressman from Cleveland, Ohio; and Mike Gravel, a former U.S. Senator representing Alaska who now lives in Springfield, Mass. Democrats who have dropped out of the race, but are still on the Missouri ballot, include Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Christopher J. Dodd.

Candidates for the Republicans include Ron Paul, a U.S. Congressman and physician from Lake Jackson, Texas; Fred Thompson, an actor and a former U.S. Senator from Lawrenceburg, Tenn.; Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts who lives in Belmont, Mass.; Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City; John McCain, a former POW during the Vietnam War and a U.S. Senator from Arizona; Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and an ordained minister now residing in Hope, Ark.; Virgil L.R. Wiles, a mail handler with the U.S. Postal Service living in Florissant, Mo.; Hugh Cort, a psychiatrist from Birmingham, Ala.; Alan Keyes, a conservative public speaker, television and radio commentator from Baltimore; and Daniel Gilbert, owner of Pintech, U.S.A., a manufacturer of electronic drums, from Arden, N.C. Republicans who have dropped out of the race as of press time include Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter.

Libertarian candidates include Wayne R. Root, Daniel Imperato, George Phillies, Michael P. Jingozian, Steve Kubby and Dave Hollist.

Twenty-four states are expected to hold primaries or caucuses on Feb. 5, with some states, including Kansas, holding elections only for one party.

Neosho Daily News