The Associated Press
(KANSAS CITY, Mo., AP) — Tuesday is primary day in Missouri, and while local legislative races abound across the state, there’s only one statewide office up for grabs, and even that one lacks suspense: incumbent State Auditor Tom Schweich has no opposition.
But voters have plenty on their plates: a sizeable tax increase to pay for roads, various other ballot measures on agriculture, the lottery and electronic privacy, and a series of smaller local races that could carry big consequences for Gov. Jay Nixon.
Here are five things to know about Tuesday’s primary:
1. NO BIG NAMES, BUT BIG QUESTIONS
The state may lack a marquee personality-driven race for elected office, but the transportation tax question is huge. If voters pass it, it will create the state’s largest tax increase to pay for its deteriorating transportation grid. Supporters say the money is needed to make badly needed repairs and improvements, but critics say it’s a waste of tax money and could hit the poor especially hard. Other questions before voters include a measure that would add a “right to farm” to the state’s constitution, create a lottery game benefiting veterans’ nursing homes and enhance constitutional protections for the owners of guns, cellphones and other electronic data.
2. WHAT WILL TUESDAY TELL US?
With more drivers opting for gas-sipping hybrids and the state facing the prospects of reduced federal funding for roads, supporters say the transportation sales tax is vital to making crucial repairs and upgrades. But if voters say no, there are questions about how much momentum can build for a new strategy, such as toll roads or a scaled-back tax increase.
3. LEGISLATIVE IMPORTANCE
A trio of special legislative elections could give Republicans the supermajority they need in the Missouri House in advance of September’s veto override session. A victory in just one of Tuesday’s contests would give Republicans a two-thirds majority, which is the threshold needed to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes on tax breaks, abortion restrictions and a variety of other bills.
4. VOTER TURNOUT
Local election authorities are predicting a statewide turnout of 27 percent of Missouri’s registered voters for the primary elections. That would be just slightly ahead of the state’s average primary election turnout during the past two decades.
5. POLLS OPEN-CLOSE
Polls open across Missouri at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.