Absentee balloting steady in Cape Girardeau, Scott county clerk offices

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A steady stream of people arrived at the Cape Girardeau County Clerk's office to file absentee ballots Monday.

So many mistakenly walked into the county assessor's office, the deputy assessors working there posted a printed sign with instructions. But many people ignored the sign, and by 11:15 a.m. it was replaced with a hand-lettered notice in red marker that simply read "VOTE UPSTAIRS CLERK."

Just outside the clerk's office, Linda and James Cravens of Cape Girardeau said they decided to vote using the absentee ballots after making plans to be out of town Tuesday. It is the first time either of them have used the process.

"It took longer to fill out the ballot than it did to stand in line [to get it]," James Cravens said. The couple said they hadn't made up their minds about which candidates to vote for until just before voting. They said they agreed on who they wanted to see in office.

Not everyone got to cast a ballot.

Janell Hinkebein made two trips to the county clerk's office in an effort to help her daughter, Casey Hinkebein, file an absentee ballot.

Casey Hinkebein, 21, is in Queretaro, Mexico, as part of a Southeast Missouri State University semester studying abroad. Her mother didn't want to send the ballot through the mail for fear it would either not reach its destination or be returned in time.

But on her second trip to the clerk's office, Hinkebein, sporting a McCain-Palin campaign button, learned that, though her daughter had given her permission to file the ballot, the state would not accept it without the student's signature or personal appearance. Tears began to form in her eyes at the thought of her daughter not being able to vote in the historic election.

The people working in the clerk's office "were very nice and helpful," Hinkebein said. "It's my own fault."

County Clerk Kara Clark and elections director Joey Keys spent the day delivering elections equipment.

In Scott County, Clerk Rita Milam said there were many absentee voters. She said more than 1,160 people requested absentee ballots and her office received more than 60 requests from people in the military. The turnout Monday, she said, was much higher than for previous presidential elections. Bollinger County Clerk Diane Holzum was unavailable for comment.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

388-3646

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