Notary or not? How to vote by mail in Missouri

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-10 19:27:06-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With less than six weeks until Election Day, absentee and mail-in ballots are en route to Missouri voters who already requested them.

Voters who have yet to do so have until Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot.

While that deadline is clear, figuring out whether or not your ballot envelope must be notarized is a different story.

"Do not let the fact we're putting out information like this overwhelm you," Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft said in a news conference in Jackson County on Tuesday. "Do not be put off. Make sure your voice is heard, participate."

Ashcroft said although there have been changes to Missouri election law, the voting process is "not complicated."

In a 41 Action News I-Team Twitter poll, 87 percent of respondents said the notary requirement is "clear as mud."

In Missouri, voters who do not want to go to the polls in person have two options:

1. Voting absentee

  • Ballots can be returned by mail or in person.
  • Must provide one of seven reasons for voting absentee, such as absence from the designated jurisdiction on Election Day or religious belief or practice.
  • Ballot envelopes must be notarized UNLESS one of these two reasons are selected:
    • Incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, including caring for a person who is incapacitated or confined.
    • You have contracted, or are in an at-risk category for contracting or transmitting, COVID-19. This includes voters who:
      • are 65 or older.
      • have serious heart conditions.
      • are immunocompromised.
      • have liver disease.
      • live in a long-term care facility.
      • have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
      • have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis.
      • have diabetes.

2. Mail-in Voting

  • Ballots must be returned through U.S. mail only.
  • No excuse or reason needed to vote this way.
  • Ballot envelope must be notarized.

Notary services must be provided free of charge for absentee ballots, but the same is not true for mail-in ballots.

However, the Missouri Secretary of State's Office compiled a directory of notaries who have volunteered to assist voters at no charge.

Another resource is Curbside Notary, which is offering carside appointments at local coffee shops, restaurants and breweries through Oct. 17.