By Ethan Colbert
More absentee ballots are being cast in Pike County than in any prior midterm elections in recent memory, according to Pike County Clerk Melissa Kempke.
Pike County’s upward trend of absentee voter turnout is mirroring similar turnouts in St. Louis City and St. Louis County.
According to one election official in St. Louis City, more than 4,700 absentee ballots had been cast either in person or by mail as of Wednesday.
In St. Louis County, voters had cast more than 29,000 absentee ballots, which is an increase of 11,000 more than the midterm election four years prior.
According to county election records, as of November 2, 2018, 312 Pike County voters had cast absentee ballots.
This is a far cry from 2014 when 144 Pike County voters had cast absentee ballots.
Absentee ballots are for voters who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. Those who need to vote absentee can do so in person or by mail.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot be mailed has passed, but individuals wishing to vote absentee can still vote in-person on Saturday, November 3 and on Monday, November 5.
The Pike County Courthouse will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and will be open for voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. The County Clerk’s office will be open during the noon hour.
Kempke said she expects her office will continue to receive absentee ballots in the mail in addition to seeing Pike County voters come to her office to vote on Saturday and Monday.
Overall, Kempke said she is not anticipating absentee voter turnout to rival the numbers from the 2016 Presidential Election, when 406 voters cast absentee ballots in the county.
“We shouldn’t surpass 406, because that would mean on Monday that we would have more 75 voters,” Kempke said. “Saturday is only half-a-day so we are not going to get 25 voters on a half-a-day.”
Kempke said in her interview that is estimating the county will have between 350 and 375 absentee ballots cast by Tuesday’s election.
The uptick in absentee voter participation has also made Kempke re-evaluate her prediction for turnout in the county.
“In the beginning, we were thinking that based on our election history of 35 percent or 37 percent, that we would have a turnout of 40 percent or 45 percent,” Kempke said. “Now, we could be at 50 percent or 55 percent, if not flirting with 60 percent.”
With 10,883 registered voters in Pike County, this translates to 6,529 voters participating in the election.