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Missouri voters with COVID-19 risk factors should vote absentee, not mail-in

All mail-in ballots must be notarized
Polling locations open to Kansas City, Missouri voters.
Posted at 12:48 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 13:48:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’re concerned about going to the polls for the November election in Missouri and also want to avoid having to get your ballot notarized, pay careful attention to which voting option you choose.

Being in an at-risk group for COVID-19 automatically grants all registered voters in Missouri the right to vote absentee for the Nov. 3 general election.

The rules are drastically different for mail-in ballot requests, so Missouri voters need to understand the difference to ensure their vote will count.

Generally, requesting an absentee ballot is the easiest way, especially for older voters or those at risk for severe complications from the coronavirus, to cast a ballot without going to the polls.

Absentee voters in an at-risk group, which includes anyone over the age of 65 as well as individuals with preexisting conditions (e.g. breathing problems, diabetes or heart issues), can request an absentee ballot from their local election board by mail, fax or email. The form also is available online.

Those ballots do not have to be notarized and can be returned to the local election board office in person or by mail to be counted.

Voters who are incapacitated or confined by illness also may request an absentee ballot, which does not have to be notarized before it is returned.

There are five other valid reasons registered voters may request an absentee ballot. But in those instances, the ballot must be notarized if it returned by mail, according to Missouri law:

  • Absence from voting jurisdiction
  • Religious belief or practice
  • Working as a poll worker
  • Incarcerated with voting rights
  • Certified participation in an address confidentiality program

Every mail-in ballot requested in Missouri must be notarized for it to be counted, even for voters in at-risk groups or homebound due to illness.

Any registered voter in Missouri may request a mail-in ballot for any reason, but there are several important things to remember for a mail-in ballot to be valid:

  • The ballot must be notarized, even if the voter is at-risk for complications from COVID-19
  • The ballot must be returned in the envelope provided
  • The ballot must be mailed to the voter’s local election board office
  • It must arrive by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3
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Being in an at-risk group for COVID-19 automatically grants all registered voters in Missouri the right to vote absentee for the Nov. 3 general election and ballots don't have to be notarized in that case, which makes it a better choice than mail-in ballots that are required to be notarized.

Voters who have requested a mail-in ballot, but would prefer to vote absentee or at the polls on election day, must surrender their mail-in ballot at the local election office.

Missouri will begin allowing absentee voting for the upcoming election on Sept. 22.

During business hours, voters who want to cast an absentee ballot may simply walk into their local election office and request to cast their absentee ballot in person until Monday, Nov. 2 — the before the general election.

Find your local election office:

The Jackson County Election Board will open its absentee voting annex at 110 N. Liberty St. in Independence when absentee voting begins.

The Kansas City Election Board also plans to open three satellite absentee ballot locations across the city during the final three weeks before the election.

Absentee voting also will be allowed at the Clay County Annex, 1901 N.E. 48th St. in Kansas City, Missouri, on Oct. 19-31.

The Clay County Board of Election Commissioners’ office and Clay County Annex also will be open from 9 a.m .to 1 p.m. on the final two Saturdays before the election, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, to allow for absentee voting

Senate Bill 631 passed in June and allowed for mail-in ballots to be used for the first time, however, they are only allowed for the August and November 2020 elections. Mail-in ballots are not allowed as a means of voting past Jan. 1, 2021, unless the Missouri legislature acts.

The only options for voting in 2021 will once again be in-person or absentee.

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.