KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- For 24 years, Republican Kit Bond has occupied a seat in the U.S. Senate. Now it will be filled by someone new, yet familiar.
Republican U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan are competing atop Missouri's ballot Tuesday to succeed Bond. Both are known names in Missouri politics.
Blunt voted on Tuesday morning in Springfield, filling out his ballot as his 5-year-old son stood next to him. Carnahan voted along with her husband in St. Louis.
Because he is running for Senate, Blunt's southwest Missouri House seat also will have a new occupant for the first time in 14 years. And voters could opt for even greater change in Missouri's congressional delegations.
Poll workers reported sporadic problems Tuesday accessing a statewide online voter registration database, but counties have their own voter registration lists that they can refer to, said Laura Egerdal, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. The databases are used when there are questions about whether a voter is registered at a particular polling place.
"It should not pose a big problem," Egerdal said.
Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, however, disagreed.
"This is a critical problem to be able to verify voter registrations at the precinct level," Smith said.
About half of Missouri's registered voters were projected to cast ballots Tuesday, and voter turnout early Tuesday varied around the state. Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren said turnout by noon had been steady, but St. Charles County election officials said morning turnout had been very heavy.
R.C. Miller, a 66-year-old from Jefferson City, said Tuesday he voted for Blunt because he wants Democrats out of power in Washington.
"He's conservative, and I believe things in D.C. got to change. We're spending way too much money, taxes are too much, too many liberal ideas -- both social and fiscal," said Miller, who is semi-retired from working for state government.
But Carnahan also had supporters at a polling place in Jefferson City.
"I believe that she has values that represent what I'm looking for," said 33-year-old Natalie Mendez, an elementary school teacher. "I respect what she is standing for."
Longtime Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, of Lexington, is facing his most formidable challenge in years from Republican Vicky Hartzler. Robin Carnahan's brother, Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan of St. Louis, also is getting a stronger than usual challenge from Republican Ed Martin.
Hartzler wore a name tag identifying herself as a candidate as she shuttled between polling places in Jefferson City on Tuesday, greeting voters as they arrived. She was hosting a watch party in Garden City later in the day; Skelton planned to watch the election returns at a restaurant in his hometown of Lexington.
Skelton was first elected to the Senate in 1976. Some voters held his long tenure against him.
"Ike needs to get out -- he's had his time. He's had a good time, but it's time for someone else," said Alice Robertson, 67, a retired janitorial business owner from Jefferson City.
The U.S. Senate race has dominated the airwaves. Outside groups have spent about $12.5 million on the race, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending. The candidates have exceeded that with their own money.
Blunt, 60, of Springfield, has sought to link Carnahan to the policies of President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders. He has highlighted his opposition to the health care overhaul, federal stimulus act and climate control legislation that he says would raise costs for Missouri electricity customers.
Carnahan, 49, of St. Louis, has tried to portray Blunt as "the very worst of Washington." She has highlighted his connections to lobbyists, corporate interests and former Republican House members who got caught up in scandals.
Carnahan is the daughter of Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was killed in a plane crash while campaigning for U.S. Senate in October 2000. After he won anyway, her mother -- Jean Carnahan -- was appointed to a two-year Senate term. Carnahan's grandfather also has served in Congress.
Blunt is the father of former Gov. Matt Blunt and was himself an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in 1992 after serving two terms as secretary of state. Blunt's father, Leroy Blunt, also served in the state Legislature.
Voters also will be electing a state auditor, numerous state House and Senate members and deciding several ballot initiatives. One of those questions would impose restrictions on dog breeders. Another would put earnings taxes in St. Louis and Kansas City to a future referendum. And a third would bar real estate transfer taxes, which are not currently levied in Missouri.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)