Despite key issues, April elections see low voter turnouts in the Ozarks

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - While there are some hot button issues on ballots across the Ozarks voter turnout isn’t what it usually is during bigger, national elections.

“It’s our duty as citizens. This is a right that we have,” says Judy Bilyeu

Robert Rubinstein said, “This election is important because it affects the local community.”

This April election is important for voters like Judy Bilyeu and Robert Rubinstein.

Voters trickled into polling locations Tuesday.

“We can’t sit home and complaint about things that we don’t like going on in our city if we don’t take this opportunity to go out and vote for the people who we want to hold these positions,” said Bilyeu.

She says she has been paying close attention to local issues.

“City council was very important to me and also out mayor. Those are the two I really did a lot of research on to be able to make the best decision,” she explained.

For Rubinstein, it’s a chance for his voice to be heard.

“This is the local community supporting Springfield. Those people will make decisions on what happens here,” he said.

Both say they were hoping to see bigger crowds.

“Very disappointed. There were only two people in line in front of me. I’m hoping earlier in the day it was busier and this is maybe just a lull before the after work traffic,” said Bilyeu.

Rubinstein said, “In November the lines were wrapped around the building. This time there’s only like two or three people coming in at a time. There are no lines, no waiting.”

Greene County Clerk, Shane Schoeller says lower voter turnouts could be due to lack of information.

“I think the biggest thing is during bigger elections voters have more contact. Weeks in advance they’re hearing about the election. Usually local elections they have less of a budget to be able to contact the voters,” he explained.

Christian County Clerk, Kay Brown, agrees.

“I guess because people are so motivated, they’re so much media coverage. They know everything about everybody that’s on the ballot. Whereas in an

April election, many times they don’t know the names or the people who are running for offices. They’re just not in tune with it,” she said.

However, for voters like Bilyeu, voting in local elections is a priority.

“These things are important. They’re just as important as who is running our country. We need to use this vote. That’s what it’s for,” she said.

Election officials in Greene County say they will hit their average of a twelve percent voter turnout which is on par for any April election.

In Christian County officials say they will likely see a lower turnout, somewhere between 6 and 8 percent.

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