JOPLIN/CARTHAGE, Mo. – Today is the last day for early voting in Missouri and voters were faced with long lines and packed courthouses.
Both Jasper County Courthouse locations in Carthage and Joplin were open until 5:00 Monday taking the final in-person absentee voters, like Brian Evans, who arrived around 11:00 A.M., but was told there may be up to an hour wait. Evans says “I knew there’d be a wait, I wasn’t sure if it would be that long, I thought it might be 10-15 minutes, it was a little longer than I thought, but not as long as they thought.”
Evans says his wait, was about 45 minutes. Kamryn Montoya also came out to cast her absentee ballot, but the lines were longer by the time she arrived at the courthouse in Joplin. Montoya says “It was super long at first, there was a lot of us crowded in one room, but it started to weed out once we got up to the polling area.”
But, there was another issue she noticed. “I would say not, we were not socially distanced, I was sitting like, shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of people.”
And that concern is what kept Shannon Ingle from voting absentee Monday. Ingle says “And I get it, everybody’s trying to get it done so they don’t have to do it tomorrow, but for me, I have a bad immune system so I was trying to avoid crowds and I went in there and it was not what I expected.”
Jasper County Clerk Charlie Davis says that’s because a felony court hearing was taking place on the same floor. Davis says “It’s an unfortunate circumstance, I apologize to the public, it was nothing that we even knew about that they were even having any courts on the second floor.”
Because of that hearing, we were not allowed to film inside the Joplin courthouse location. However, Davis has advice ahead of the Tuesday polls opening. “If everybody wears gloves, wears masks, you know, wear your protective stuff, then that’s why you wear it, to protect yourself, et cetera, so if everybody’s doing that we’re going to be okay.”
Last week when we spoke with Charlie Davis, he told us absentee ballots had broken the 2016 record, as they had just over 8,000. Today, Davis tells us they had well over 12,000 ballots.