If you voted in Taney or Stone county on Nov. 6, pat yourself on the back. You took part in one of the greatest exercises of freedom in history.

The vast majority of human beings who have walked this earth have not had the privilege of taking part in choosing their leaders. Congratulations on taking advantage of this great gift.

The turnouts were unusually high for a midterm election. In Taney County, 56 percent of registered voters turned out, and in Stone County, a whopping 63 percent showed up.

It would appear the main draws were the Senate race between Josh Hawley and Claire McCaskill, and in the many propositions regarding redistricting, minimum wage, bingo rules, a gas tax and medicinal marijuana. Medicinal marijuana accounted for three of the ballot issues itself.

There were a few local issues on the ballot. In Taney County, there was a presiding commissioner vote. And if you lived in either Merriam Woods or Forsyth, there was a tax issue to vote on. It’s highly doubtful any of those items were responsible for the big voter turnout. They certainly didn’t draw anyone in Stone County.

Rather, this was a midterm that garnered a lot of national attention. And because Missouri had a Senate race whose outcome could have serious national implications, voters across the state were amped up to take part.

Whatever the reason, it’s good to see everyone turn out for the vote. And despite the big turnout, and despite a machine malfunction in one of Taney County’s precincts, the election seemed to go off without any serious issues.

But please remember. In April, when it’s time to vote for your city and school board leaders, it’s just as important for you to get out there and make your voices heard. The local elections are just as important, and arguably more important, to your daily lives.

Before I wrap up, I wanted to revisit an issue I wrote about after the August primary election. Back then, Taney County voters cast about 7 Republican ballots for each Democrat. It was obvious many Democrats were getting Republican ballots so they could have a say in their local government. I speculated the true red-blue split was more like 4-1 because that’s about how much Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton here in 2016.

Well, in 2018, the senate race favored the Republican (Hawley) over the Democrat (McCaskill) by about a 3-1 margin in Taney County; for state auditor, voters favored the Republican (McDowell) over the Democrat (Galloway) by about 2-1, and for U.S. representative, the Republican (Long) beat the Democrat by a more than a 3-1 margin (more like 7-2, if you want to go that far). The numbers in all three races were pretty similar in Stone County.

That’s not the 4-1 that I expected. That could probably be explained by the fact that, nationally, Democrats were more motivated this year, and they were running incumbents in two of the three statewide races. Republicans were also running a problematic candidate for state auditor.

But who knows? Maybe Democrats are also increasing their numbers in this area by just a smidgen. I look forward seeing what happens in 2020.

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