60-percent turnout in Gasconade County

Dave Marner
Managing Editor

Gasconade County voters rejected two General Election ballot questions pertaining to medical marijuana on Tuesday but gave their approval to Constitutional Amendment 2 by a vote of 3,414 to 2,901.

County voters rejected Proposition D, a proposal to increase the state’s motor fuel tax by up to 10 cents over a four-year period, by 899 votes. The measure failed in the county 3,574 no to 2,675 yes. It was failing statewide, 53-46 percent at midnight.

Two other medical marijuana ballot issues, Amendment 3 and Proposition C, both were rejected in the county. Amendment 3 failed with 4,642 votes against it and only 1,605 in favor. Proposition C failed 4,010 to 2,148. Amendment 2 was approved across the state.

A change in assignments for two exit poll workers from St. Louis created some confusion in Owensville’s first ward mid-morning on Tuesday. The situation was resolved with a telephone call, however, said Gasconade County Clerk Lesa Lietzow. 

“A man had permission from the clerk, me, to be there,” said Lietzow. “Something got switched and it was two women.”

A woman who identified herself as Mary Salem, St. Louis, and he mother, who did not give her name, were conducting exit polling for Edison Research. 

“I’ve never done anything like this,” said Salem. “It’s interesting.”

“It was okay,” said Sunny Wilson, a Ward 1 voter who took a few minutes to answer survey questions after casting her ballot at First Assembly of God Church early in the afternoon. “Political questions — and you’re seeing enough political stuff on TV and on our phones.”

Lietzow said the precinct judges at the First Assembly of God Church where Ward 1 voters cast their ballots were told a man would be there. They told the women they did not have permission to be there.

“They have every right to be there,” said Lietzow, noting the election judges correctly told them to stay at least 25 feet away from the entry and exit doors. “They have permission to go inside three times throughout the 13-hour day to check on vote totals. We got everything straightened out. I gave the judges specific instructions on who was going to be there and they (Edison Research) sent different people. I’d call it a minor thing. It’s fine. The judges were not wrong. They did what they were told to do.”

Lietzow said the exiting pollsters picked up their informational packets from the polling agency at the local Medley Pharmacy and had never been to town. Salem said they arrived around 10:15 a.m. after receiving the assignment late Sunday.

Lietzow said everything was straightened out with a phone call.

Lietzow said her initial estimate of a 35-percent voter turnout has been revised to 45 percent. She said 333 absentee ballots had been requested and estimated at least 300 of those were returned — half again as many as cast in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Turnout in the county ended up being just over 60 percent as 6,442 ballots were cast among 10,654 registered voters (60.47 percent). Osage County posted a 73.82 percent turnout. “I’m always glad to be on the low side,” said Lietzow of her voter turnout estimates. She had enough ballots printed and on hand to accommodate an 80-percent turnout.

In Maries County, there was a steady stream of voters coming to the Vienna precinct on Tuesday morning. Maries County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers said a total of 299 absentee ballots were cast for the election. She ordered additional ballots that were picked up on Tuesday as she anticipated an even heavier voter turnout than the 72 percent she ordered ballots for initially. Turnout in Maries County ended up at 65.96 percent as voters there cast 3,693 ballots out of the 6,053 who were registered.