So you’re registered to vote. You’ve heard a lot about different ways to vote in the November election. If you haven’t decided whether to cast your ballot in person or not, don’t wait too long, and take time to review the rules.
This year all voters can opt to use mail-in ballots. Legislation authorizing mail-in ballots was enacted this year to accommodate voting under pandemic conditions. Any registered voter can vote by mail-in ballot. Mail-in ballots can be requested in person or by mail. Voters have until 5 p.m. on Oct. 21 to request a mail-in ballot by mail from their local election authority. For example, in Cole County that would be the County Clerk’s office.
But here’s where planning ahead is crucial: Mail-in ballots can only be turned in by mail, and before mailing, the envelope must be notarized. These ballots must be received by the local election authority by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.
Absentee voting is an option only for qualified voters. This year, eligibility criteria for absentee voting include voters who have either contracted COVID-19 or are considered “at-risk” based on certain factors. Absentee ballots can be requested from your local election authority by mail until 5 p.m. on Oct. 21 and in person until Nov. 2.
In some cases, absentee ballots, like mail-in ballots, must be notarized. A list of notaries who have volunteered their services free of charge is posted on the Missouri Secretary of State’s website.
Absentee ballots can be turned in either by mail or in person. The deadline for turning in absentee ballots in person is 5 p.m. on Nov. 2. Absentee ballots turned in by mail must be received by the local election authority by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.
Specific voter information is posted at the Missouri Secretary of State’s Go Vote Missouri website at sos.mo.gov. Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft is encouraging voters casting absentee or mail-in ballots to mail ballots at least two weeks before the Nov. 3 election. That means ballots should be in the mail by Oct. 20. On the front end, local election authorities must start mailing requested ballots to voters by Sept. 22.
Your vote is important. Make it count. Please plan ahead.
Leslie Holloway, from Jefferson City, is the senior director of regulatory affairs for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.