JEFFERSON CITY - More than half of Missouri's registered voters will cast their ballots on Election Day next week, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said.
Carnahan said 51 percent of Missouri's 4.1 million registered voters will show up at the polls Tuesday. Of registered voters, 105,000 are first-time voters. The state is also trying to get more military personnel to vote by cutting in half the amount of time it takes to return a ballot from overseas.
Voter turnout this year could be as high as 56 percent, said Brian Calfano, an assistant professor of political science at Missori State University.
"A good number of folks, especially in the southwest part of the state, have somewhat aligned with the Tea Party movement," he said. "Given that, it seems as though there's a bit of an intensity that that has not been there in previous cycles."
If Carnahan's prediction is true, it would be two percent lower than in 2006, when 53 percent of registered voters submitted ballots. The estimate is a compilation of local turnout estimates, which the 116 election authorities around the state submitted.
For the first time ever, men and women stationed overseas can have absentee ballots sent to them via e-mail. Service members can print off the ballots and mail them back to their local election officials, said Laura Egerdal, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office.
It can take up to 18 days for direct mail to get overseas, and the new plan will allow service members to voter closer to Election Day.
"We really belive that if you are making the ultimate sacrifice and serving our country overseas you deserve every opportunity to cast a ballot," said Egerdal.
Military men and women must be registered to vote, apply for the absentee ballot and the application must be approved. The secure e-mail system goes through several security checks to prevent voter fraud, Egerdal said.