Missouri notary requirement confusing for some early voters

Several events offer free notary services
Posted at 5:42 PM, Oct 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-10 18:43:50-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With just a few weeks until Election Day, many Missourians will be voting absentee or mail-in, and because of a state law, will require a notary.

On Saturday, the League of Women Voters of Kansas City, Jackson, Clay Platte Counties held a notary event at City Market.

"It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is, everybody should have a chance to vote," said notary Beau Gostomsky.

41 Action News spoke to several voters about this step.

"Seems like they’re just trying make this difficult, difficult for people," said LaVeda Johnson, who wants to vote early.

Kansas City resident Cortney Myers said she believes the notary step is a hindrance.

"I think it’s one more thing stopping people, especially young people from voting," Myers said.

Sharis Johnson, who also wants to vote early, had similar thoughts.

"You shouldn’t have to get things notarized to make our vote count, we never had to do that before," Sharis Johnson said.

The notary requirement was put in place to ensure there is no voter fraud and to allow notaries to verify the voter is who they say they are.

"We do not provide the ballots," Gostomsky said. "They actually need to complete the ballots and seal the envelope, and then we can witness their signature. If they already signed on the back of the envelope we’re just going to have them resign again, we’ll check their ID we’ll have them sign our book and they are good to go."

However, the Kansas City, Missouri, Election Board has noticed many voters are filling out their ballots incorrectly.

"I’m seeing a lot of people that have gone through all the steps, hoops and hurdles to get the ballot, but then the ninth inning of the game, they’re not signing it," said Lauri Ealom, director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Board of Elections.

This leads to board of elections workers calling voters individually to correct the mistake, otherwise their vote wont count.

"Due to COVID and all of that, I thought that doing the mail-in would be a lot better and I want my vote to be counted," LeVeda Johnson said.

These are the two options to vote early in Missouri:

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.

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 offers carside appointments at local coffee shops, restaurants and breweries through Oct. 17.

41 Action News is committed to providing comprehensive information on the 2020 primary and general elections with an emphasis on several key issues — the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and race relations. Count on us to provide news and information to help you make an informed choice at the polls.