Blunt estimates 24 percent turnout of voters on Aug. 6

Saturday, July 27, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- About one in four registered Missouri voters are expected to cast a ballot in the Aug. 6 elections, Secretary of State Matt Blunt's office said Friday.

Blunt's office said that statewide, 24 percent of voters are expected to go to the polls, which would be up from the 22.4 percent who cast ballots two years ago.

"We think it will be a little higher this year primarily because of term limits and redistricting," said Spence Jackson, Blunt's spokesman.

In 1998, only 15.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the August election. In 1996, that number was just over 20 percent.

Voter-approved term limits have forced more than 70 members of the state House and half the state Senate out of office, leaving many of the August primary races wide open.

Redistricting, which was completed by a panel of judges last year, has also shifted some legislative districts, offering voters new choices of candidates.

Also, there are two measures on the ballot that voters will be asked to decide.

Proposition A would authorize a tax of up to 50 cents monthly on wireless phones. It would be used to fund a statewide 911 emergency system for mobile callers.

Proposition B would raise the state fuel tax by 4 cents to 21 cents a gallon and the state sales tax by one-half cent to 4.725 cents on a dollar.

"I would think that both propositions are going to motivate a lot people out to polls because of the tax issues involved with both measures," Jackson said.

Jackson said Blunt was anxious about releasing the turnout estimate because of its potential impact on voters.

"Predicting numbers can discourage some people from turning out, but we hope that's not the case," Jackson said. "We have a lot of open seats out there and there is a lot riding on this election."

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