Absentee/mail-in voting for the Aug. 4 primary begins June 23
By SHERI GASSAWAY
The Missouri Legislature has approved a measure that expands options for voting absentee or by mail in the 2020 elections because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The expansion offers two options:
- You can request an absentee ballot if you are in an at-risk category for contracting the virus, which does not require notarization, or
- Any voter can request a mail-in ballot, which does require notarization.
On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition that would make absentee mail-in balloting available to all eligible voters in Missouri.
“The case is now under submission,” said Denise Lieberman, general counsel to the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. “We do expect the court to rule rather swiftly, as absentee voting begins next week on June 23. Making voters chose between their health and their right to vote infringes on Missouri’s fundamental right to vote.”
The case was filed on behalf of the NAACP of Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Missouri and several individuals.
REQUESTING AN ABSENTEE BALLOT
Currently, those who have COVID-19 or are at high risk of contracting or transmitting the coronavirus during 2020 can request an absentee ballot from the state of Missouri at sos.mo.org. At-risk voters are described as those who:
- Are 65 years of age or older
- Are immunocompromised
- Have serious heart conditions
- Have liver disease
- Have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- Have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis
- Have diabetes
- Live in a long-term care facility.
Those at risk requesting the absentee ballot would select the reason on the list, which pertains to those at risk of contracting the virus. Those ballots do not need to be notarized, nor do ballots from voters who are incapacitated or confined by an illness or their caregivers.
Other reasons for voting absentee include:
- Religious beliefs or practice
- If you working as an election worker
- If you are incarcerated, as long as you have the right to vote
- If you are participating in Safe at Home program
- If you will be absent on election day from your election jurisdiction.
Those who request an absentee ballot for the five reasons listed above must have their ballot envelopes notarized in person.
REQUESTING A MAIL-IN BALLOT
Those who aren’t considered at risk of contracting the coronavirus, but would prefer to vote by mail rather than risk attending their polling place during the pandemic can request a mail-in ballot at sos.mo.org.
Mail-in ballots also will require in-person notarization, said Lieberman.
“While Gov. Mike Parson extended his order for remote notarization of other documents like wills and contracts through Aug. 28 because of the coronavirus, it does not include mail-in ballots because the envelope containing the ballot must be notarized,” Lieberman said.
She explained that documents like wills and contracts can be signed during a video-conference call with a remote notary and scanned or faxed to the notary to be stamped.
“You can’t do that with an envelope though, and you are required to use the envelope provided by the election authority,” she said.
Ballots must be returned by close of the polls on election day by mail or in person by the voter or a close relative of the voter. In Missouri, polls close at 7 p.m.
REQUESTING AN ABSENTEE OR MAIL-IN BALLOT
To download an absentee ballot request, visit sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri/2020AbsenteeBallotrequestformfillable.pdfTo download a mail-in ballot request, go to sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri/2020MailInBallotRequest.pdf.
Fill out the request and submit the form to your local election authority.
DEADLINES TO FILE REQUESTS
Requests for mail-in ballots must be received by the second Wednesday before election day by email, fax, mail or in person. For the August primary, requests must be received by July 22 for the Aug. 4 primary election and by Oct. 21 for the Nov. 3 general election.