Municipal Election Costs Taxpayers Over $10,000; Only 12.7% Registered Voters Cast Their Ballots

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By Crystal Howerton and Knox County Clerk Debbie McCurren

The lack of issues to be voted upon as well as the miserable weather accompanying Election Day resulted in a fairly low turnout at the polls. A total of 348 voters or 12.07% of the 2,883 register voters in Knox County braved the cold and rain to cast their ballots on Tuesday, April 8, 2008.
Proposition 1 passed in Knox County with 292 yes votes and 54 no votes, or 84.39% to 15.61%. Proposition 1 will continue the existing county wide sales tax of ½ cent (one-half cent), for a period of four years beginning January 1, 2009, for the purpose of the General Revenue Fund.
Edina had the largest voter turnout with 131 voters, followed by Novelty, 48 votes, Knox City, 41 votes, Baring, 40 votes, Newark, 30 votes, and Hurdland, 25 votes. There were 33 Absentee votes counted.
Novelty held the only contested race in Knox County for this election. Richard Edwards obtained 27 votes, followed closely by Jerry Lincoln with 26 votes, and Jason Violette with 25 votes. Linda Stukenberg received 10 votes. Edwards, Lincoln and Violette will serve two-year terms on the Novelty Board of Trustees.
In Baring, Eldon Parrish was the lone candidate for South Ward Alderman. He received a total of four votes. Because no one filed for the position as North Ward Alderman, someone will be appointed to the position by the existing Council.
David W. Strickler, Jr. will continue as Mayor of Edina for another two-year term with 104 votes. Receiving 95 Edina votes was Collector Betty Morgret who will also continue in her current position. Renee Edwards, 28 votes, Albert Hagerla, 33 votes, and Donnie Davis, 45 votes, will each maintain their current positions as Edina First, Second, and Third Ward Aldermen.
In Hurdland, there was one write-in vote for Mayor, however that vote was not counted because there weren’t any write-in candidates that filed prior to the deadline. There were also no filing candidates for East and West Ward Aldermen in Hurdland. According to Knox County Clerk Debbie McCurren, the current Board of Aldermen in Hurdland will appoint citizens to the vacant positions during the next regular meeting in May.
Sandy G. Browning was elected as Mayor of Knox City with 20 votes. There were also two uncounted write-in votes. Michael E. Roush was elected to a one-year term as North Ward Alderman. Two two-year terms as North and South Ward Alderman each received two uncounted write-in votes. Individuals will be appointed to those positions by the existing Council. Knox City residents voted yes 19 times to continue the Street Tax of .15 per 100 dollar valuation for Street Maintenance for a period of two years. There was one no vote.
In the uncontested race for Newark’s Board of Trustees, Rita Lindsey received 15 votes, Helen Peterson, 14 votes and Lester Ellis, 13 votes. They will each serve two-year terms.
No eligible citizens in Knox County voted for the Lewis County C-1, Adair County R-II, or LaPlata R-II School Board Elections.
State law requires that an April Municipal Election be held every year. This is the election in which voters elect school board members, city council members, ambulance, health department and nursing home board members, as well as voting on issues pertaining to these entities in Knox County. It is an election that you directly decide. All elections are state-mandated, but the Municipal Election is the election that is paid for entirely by your tax dollars. The other elections held throughout the year have State and Federal candidates and issues on the ballot therefore the State helps with some of the costs. The Missouri Association of Counties has been trying for the last few years to get legislation passed that would require the State to pay for all costs since the elections are state-mandated. According to Knox County Clerk Debbie McCurren, this will be a long time coming.
“The Municipal Election was, at the least a very strange one,” commented McCurren. “I do not recall there ever not being a school board election during the 30 years I have been in the Clerk’s office. Equally unusual, the town of Hurdland had no one file for any position that was open. Yet, the City of Hurdland was required by state law to pay for their share of the election,” stated McCurren. “Combine the abovementioned, and rain all day, this made for a very low voter turnout. Knox County had a 12.7” turnout, a cost of $29.94 per vote.”
“On average April Municipal Elections have the lowest voter turnouts of all elections,” said McCurren. “It is very common to have less than 20% turnout. Yet, it is the election that most directly affects us, and our tax dollars pay for 100% of it.”
The Knox County Clerk reported that this election cost the County $10, 420.15. The County Clerk is required by State law to prepare for all elections as if expecting a 100% turnout. “Costs of the ballots, programming, election workers, supplies, postage and publications have all increased significantly,” said McCurren. “Also, there has been a regular decline in the number of registered voters in Knox County. In 2006, there were 3,110 registered voters; in 2007, there were 2,977 and as of April 8, 2008 there are 2,883 registered voters. I encourage all Knox County registered voters to vote in every election. Make sure your voice and your tax dollars count.”