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Missouri mail-in and absentee voting rules

While the vast majority of Missouri voters are expected to vote in person this Nov. 3, some are still planning to take their chances with mail-in or absentee ballots.

Missouri courts have ruled on two cases dealing with mail-in voting procedures.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled against Democrats who wanted all absentee voters to be able to cast their ballots without having to get them notarized first. Had the plaintiffs won, the long-standing protections against fraud would have been weakened with no proof that the person voting is the person listed on the voter rolls.

READ: Missouri Amendment 3 – the facts

That means the rules for absentee voting, which requires one of seven excuses, also remain the same with some exceptions..

You will not need a notarized ballot if one if you fall within the following criteria.

  • You’re incapacitated or confined “due to illness or physical disability,” or you’re primarily responsible for taking care of a person who is;
  • You’ve contracted COVID-19;
  • You’re 65 or older;
  • You live in a long-term care facility;
  • You have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma;
  • You have serious heart conditions;
  • You’re immuno compromised;
  • You have diabetes;
  • You have chronic kidney disease and you’re undergoing dialysis; or
  • You have liver disease.

Voting integrity organizations have asked families to insure that loved ones, living alone at home or in long-term or other care facilities, do not have their identities or ballots stolen and to make sure the elderly person is the one completing the ballot. Some ballot harvesting groups have been documented to enter collect ballots from the elderly or disabled, often filling the ballot out for those individuals.

You will need to get your ballot notarized if you’re citing one of the other five excuses, which are as follows:

  • You’ll be outside the county on Election Day;
  • Your religious belief or practice;
  • You work as an election authority or as a member of an election authority, or you’ll be working for an election authority at a location other than your polling place;
  • You’re incarcerated, provided you remain qualified to vote;
  • You’re a participant in the state’s address confidentiality program due to safety concerns.

The last day to request an absentee or mail-in ballot is Oct. 21.

If you still need to request one, you can do so in a number of ways.

Perhaps the simplest is to go to your local clerk’s office, ask for a request form, fill it out and turn it in.

If you’d rather do things remotely, you can also find one to print out at the Secretary of State’s office.

You can also write up a letter to your election authority with the following information:

  • Your full name;
  • Your residential address;
  • A mailing address, if you want it sent somewhere other than your residential address;
  • Your phone number and/or email address;
  • Your voter registration number, if you know it;
  • Your absentee excuse, if you’re voting absentee; and
  • Your signature.

Once you’ve got that printout or letter filled out, you’ll need to send it to your local election authority.

If you’re requesting an absentee ballot, you can turn in your request form or letter by mail, by email, by fax or in person. If you’re voting mail-in, you can only send your form in by mail or in-person.

In another ruling, a federal judge in Kansas City on Friday briefly allowed voters using mail-in ballots this fall to return them to election authorities in-person. But then he reversed his own order Saturday afternoon as the state appealed to a higher court.

That means “mail-in” ballots, which are different from absentee ballots in that anyone can request one without a specific legal excuse, must continue to be returned only by U.S. mail. Absentee ballots may be returned in-person or by mail.

National polls show that upwards of 67 percent of Republican voters plan to vote in Person while less than 30 percent of Democrats plan to do so.

–Dwight Widaman and wire services