OREGON COUNTY-- Oregon County Clerk Gary Hensley credits voters being educated, good solid candidates and two hot constitutional amendments to the large voter turnout in last Tuesday's primary election.
Hensley said 49 percent of the registered voters in the county cast their vote Aug. 3. "Our office was very pleased with the number of voters in Oregon County that exercised their right to vote last Tuesday," the county clerk said.
"Articles in The South Missourian News, two constitutional amendments, a hot governor's race and three contested local races with good candidates seemed to bring out the voters in this year's primary," he said. "Some of the churches in the county also helped in the voter turnout by advertising in The South Missourian News and The Oregon County Record trying to educate voters concerning the constitutional amendments."
Hensley said as of Aug. 3, there were 7,011 registered voters in the county. He said 3,493, or 49 percent of those registered, cast their vote in the most recent election.
Oregon County has a reputation of high voting averages. Hensley said the highest voter turnout since he has been in office was in the November 2000 Presidential Election.
He said 65 percent of the voters in the county voted then. He said another high election count was November 2002 when incumbent Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren faced challenger Stacey Wiggs. There were also two school issues on that ballot. Proposition I, asking for a new elementary school at Thayer, which passed, and the QZAB school issue at Alton which failed. The county clerk said 57 of percent of registered voters took part in that election.
Deputy Clerk Kim Hollis said she remembers in a report in October 1994 for the November 1994 election there were 5,759 registered voters in Oregon County. The office has increased the total number of registered voters by more than 1,000 since Hensley took office. Hollis said on an average, the office holds a least one voter registration drive annually. The 2000 census in the county shows there are 10,344 people in the county.
Hensley said statewide, more voters than ever took part in Tuesdays primary election. He said a check with Secretary of State Matt Blunt's office revealed that 43 percent of the 3.6 million registered voters voted statewide.
Blunts office said the next highest voter turnout was 36 percent in the August Primary in 1992.
"The precinct in the county with the highest voter turnout was Woodside north of Alton with 66 percent of the voters voting. Thayer 2 was the lowest voting precinct with 42 percent voting," Hensley said.