NEW MADRID - With just over 10 percent of the county's registered voters making their way to the polls Tuesday, the county's new voting machines didn't get much of a workout. However, County Clerk Clement Cravens said he was pleased with how smoothly the election went and that election judges had the opportunity to get used to the changes.
"There were really no major problems. A few calls on how to do things but with the low voter turnout it kept a lot of issues from coming up," said Cravens.
Among the problems Cravens said he foresees in the general election in November is with voters deactivated from the voting list due to lack of a forwarding address or failure to respond to update requests. According to Cravens the new centralized registration system identified and deactivated some 1,500 voters.
With no contested county elections and only one local issue on the ballot, there were only state races to draw voters to the polls. On Tuesday, 1,237 voters cast ballots of the 10,711 active voters, prompting Cravens to quip: " I don't know what the record is for low voter turn out is, but this has to be close to it."
Locally, although there is no motel within the Matthews city limits, residents overwhelmingly approved a motel tax. There were 70 yes votes to 7 no votes.
County level candidates, all running on the Democratic ticket, were unopposed in the primary and will be unopposed in the general election. The unofficial vote totals provided by Craven's office were: Fred W. Copeland, 34th judicial circuit judge, 727; Charles Spitler, associate circuit judge, 745; Clyde M. Hawes, presiding county commissioner, 722; Marsha Meatte Holiman, circuit court clerk, 714; Clement Cravens, county clerk, 745; Ann Evans Copeland, recorder of deeds, 729; Lewis H. Recker, prosecuting attorney, 718; Brian Mauk, county auditor; 706; and Dewayne Nowlin, collector of revenue, 751.
On other issues, New Madrid voters generally reflected the state trends.
Amendment 1, the parks and soils conservation tax, received overwhelming approval in the county. The issue saw 784 yes votes to 348 no votes.
Of the 1,237 votes cast, 886 residents picked up a Democratic ballot. On the Democratic ticket for U.S. Senate, Claire McCaskill was the top vote-getter with 605 votes over 241 votes for Bill Clinton Young while in the state auditor's race, voters cast 469 votes for Susan Montee compared to 293 for Darrell Wattenbarger.
For U.S. Representative from the 8th District, New Madrid County resident Gene Curtis fared well, capturing 396 votes compared to 250 votes for Veronica J. Hambacker and 161 votes for E. Earl Durnell. For state representatives in the three districts within New Madrid County, Larry Tetley, 160th district, had 50 votes; Steve Hodges, 161st district, 442 votes; and Terry Swinger, 162nd district, 239 votes.
There were 342 county residents taking Republican ballots. These voters gave the nod to Jim Talent for U.S. senate candidate from their party with 303 votes. The other candidates and their totals were: Isaiah Hair Jr., 3; Joyce P. Lea, 6; Roxie L. Fausnaught, 2; and Scott Babbitt, 6.
To represent the GOP in the state auditor's race, Jack Jackson was the top vote-getter in the county with 101 votes compared to 34 votes for Mark Wright; Al Hanson, 22; Sandra Thomas, 61; and John W. Loudon, 52.
There were 320 votes cast for incumbent District 8 Representative Jo Ann Emerson, who is unopposed. Also unopposed in the Republican primary were: Ellen Brandom, 160th District representative, 29 votes; and Gary Branum, 161st District representative, 210 votes.
Only nine persons voted Libertarian with those nine votes each cast for their party's unopposed candidates: Frank Gilmour, U.S. Senate; Charles W. Baum, state auditor; and Branden C. McCullough, Eighth District U.S. representative.