Despite some long lines and waits as a record-breaking number of lake area voters turned out for the 2020 presidential election, it was a relatively smooth process as thousands cast their ballots in a contentious and divisive election.

Despite some long lines and waits as a record-breaking number of lake area voters turned out for the 2020 presidential election, it was a relatively smooth process as thousands cast their ballots in a contentious and divisive election. 

Voters paid no attention to the plexiglass shields separating the public from election judges and masks many working and casting ballots wore. While COVID-19 has changed the way elections are held, at least this election, it has not dampened the determination of voters to take part in the process. All lake area counties surpassed the 2016 numbers that had broken previous records. 

Across the 3 counties, the number one issue voters said brought them to the polls was the presidential election. However, of the more than 80 voters polled at local precincts, the economy, frustration with COVID-19 response and the military topped the concerns that brought people out. 

Not surprisingly, local voters reported voting for Republican President Donald Trump and Governor Mike Parson. Of those polled by Lake Sun staff, less than 10 voted for Democratic candidate Joe Biden or Nicole Galloway. 

David Stansberry in Miller County said voting is as basic as the constitution. 

“It is our one time each year, in this case, four years, to vote and be counted and take pride. We have that opportunity,” he said “I hope more and more of the next generation or the generation out there today get themselves educated and learn to appreciate how lucky they are to be here. There are so many in the world who just don’t have the opportunities we do.” 

For 19-year-old Olivia Johnson, of Sunrise Beach, voiced the same response about civic duty. She said the decision on who to vote for was harder to make than she expected. 

“I know that my generation has been one of the most popular generations in order of people coming to the polls and voting. That is something my friends are very passionate about is politics. I decided I would take this opportunity to do my civic duty and do the same thing. When it comes to my decision, it is a very hard decision to make and I just had to take a test and do whatever it said. I was pretty torn,” she said. “I would say just follow your instincts and maybe don’t follow what may be the media says or what your friends say. Just follow your instincts and if you have to take a test as I did, just put in the answers you truly feel reflect what you believe instead of what you are reading online or what your friends believe. I think that is the most important thing to do and also just going in and hoping for the best I guess in this election. This election is kind of weird and I feel like all we really can do is hope for the best right now.” 

Johnson said she feels pretty good about it. She guesses it is a rite of passage into adulthood. 

“I feel like now I’m officially an adult now that the government knows my name and where I live. They did before but now I definitely feel like I’m being surveyed everywhere I go. It is definitely a monumental moment considering the current world situation with the pandemic and everything,” Johnson said. 

All around, this is a very historical time so Johnson feels like me being able to tell my children in the future that she voted in the midst of a pandemic over these two controversial people, that is a very cool thing to be able to say one day.

Miller County Clerk Clinton Jenkins said Tuesday was a busy day, with precincts reporting lines everywhere. 

‘They were 30 people deep at 6 a.m. at the courthouse. Only 1 911 call was made today for a guy wearing a Trump shirt that he wouldn't take off/cover-up etc. and was causing problems,” Jenkins said. 

Early voting in Miller County nearly doubled their old record in 2016 with the number sent out and returned. This year 2,579 have been sent out. Not all of them may have been returned, they are processing them as of press time on Tuesday. 

Clinton said they've experienced the "normal issues" of this election. People who are not registered, haven't voted in 8 years, have moved, etc. There are almost 19,000 registered voters in Miller County, which has gone up by about 1,000 this year.

“This election has been hectic with a few new challenges due to COVID-19. They had 50 COVID-19 cases yesterday with people who called, pulled in and then we had to take the ballots to them then disinfect them when we took them back to get turned in,” he said. “Over the weekend we did curbside and about 170 people utilized that and/or came into the courthouse to vote.”

Morgan County Clerk’s office reported a busy day but declined to provide any additional information.  

At least 100.8 million people, a record, voted early in the presidential election between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden as voters headed to the polls on Election Day. 

Figures are according to the U.S. Elections Project, which tracks early voting and mail-in ballot returns in states. The tally crossed the century-mark Tuesday morning. 

It includes around 35 million in-person early votes and 65 million ballots cast by mail. The number will continue to grow as more votes cast before Tuesday are publicized by states.

The massive early voting turnout puts the U.S. on track to likely surpass 150 million voters overall for the election, which would mark the highest turnout of eligible voters by percentage in a presidential election since 1908. That year Republican William Howard Taft defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan with 65.7% of the voting-eligible population participating.

In 2016, 47 million people – the previous early voting record – voted before Election Day in the presidential election between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Overall, 138.8 million people, 60.1% of the voter-eligible population, voted in 2016.

This year's 100 million early voters is about 43% of the nation's estimated 233.7 million eligible voters as of 2018. Seventy-three percent of the entire 2016 turnout has already voted before Election Day numbers are tallied. For the first time in modern U.S history, more voters this year are expected to have voted early than on Election Day.