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Missouri Secretary Of State Outlines New Voting Options, Encourages In-Person Voting

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Michele Skalicky
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Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft wants to be sure that Missouri voters know their options for casting ballots in the August General Primary Election and in the November General Election.

He’s touring the state talking about new options for absentee and mail-in voting, and Tuesday he stopped in Springfield.

The Missouri Legislature passed Senate Bill 631 on the last day of the session.  It allows a Missouri citizen to vote by absentee ballot without a notary if:

  • They are incapacited or in confinement due to illness
  • They have contracted coronavirus 
  • They are risk for COVID-19 due to the following:
  1. Age 65 or older
  2. Living in a long-term care facility
  3. Chronic lung disease/asthma
  4. Serious heart condition
  5. Immunocompromised
  6. Diabetes
  7. Chronic kidney disease and are undergoing analysis
  8. Liver disease

You may vote absentee under the new law with a notary due to:

  • Religious beliefs or practices
  • Working as an election worker
  • Incarceration, if still eligible to vote
  • Absence on Election Day from your election juridiction
  • Certified participation in an address confidentiality program

July 22 at 5 p.m. is the deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail for the August 4 Election.  Absentee ballots may be requested in person up until the day before the election.  Ballots may be turned in by mail or in person, and the ballot must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
A mail-in option is also available to all registered voters, but state law requires the ballot envelope to be notarized.    To cast a mail-in vote, complete an application to request a mail-in ballot in person or by mail; deliver it to your local election authority by July 22 at 5 p.m. for the August 4 Election; fill out the ballot and have the envelope notarized; and return the mail-in ballot through U.S. mail in time for it to arrive by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

But Ashcroft encourages voters to cast ballots in person if possible to make sure their votes count.

"We had an unfortunate story from a lady in St. Louis County at our June Municipal Election, normally April,  where she mailed in her absentee ballot six days before the election," Ashcroft said.  "It took 13 days to get to the election authority.  In Missouri, your ballot must be received by 7 p.m. the day of the election.  Her vote didn't count."

The Secretary of State's Office is working with local election authorities to make in-person voting as safe as possible during the pandemic, he said.  His office has provided local election authorities with sanitization options, floor distancing strips, face masks, face shields and other items, according to Ashcroft.

Ashcroft said his office has distributed $4.5 million in federal money to the 116 election authorities in Missouri. 

"We are making sure every election authority receives at least $20,000," he said, "enough to make some real changes."

He is suggesting they use some of the money to increase poll worker pay "to make sure that we have an overabundance of poll workers."  Ashcroft said he wants to be sure that all polling locations have sufficient staff to open so voter overcrowding doesn't occur at fewer polling sites.

Wednesday, July 8, is the last day to register to vote if you plan to cast a ballot in the August Primary.