Voting mail-in or absentee? Here's what you need to know

1 month 6 hours 6 minutes ago Monday, September 21 2020 Sep 21, 2020 Monday, September 21, 2020 8:18:00 PM CDT September 21, 2020 in News
By: Alyssa Jackson, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA — Election day is drawing closer, but some voters are confused on the difference between mail-in and absentee ballots.

Absentee voting is not new in Missouri. If you are in the at-risk category for COVID-19, you have the option to vote absentee or mail-only.

Due to the coronavirus, Governor Parson signed Senate Bill 631 into law over the summer, which temporarily allows mail-in ballots for the August primary and upcoming presidential election. 

The Missouri Secretary of State’s website lists reasons Missourians must provide for voting absentee. All Missourians are eligible to request mail-in ballots from local election authorities.

While the new mail-in option makes the voting process easier and safer because of the coronavirus pandemic, not everyone trusts the process.

“I feel more confident that will happen if I vote in person, the way I've always done it for like 50 years,” Ruth Elledge said.“If I mail in my vote, who's to say that somebody who doesn't like the way I vote throws it out?” 

University of Missouri student Elliot DeNard is also not confident a mail-in vote will be secure.

“Now that we're using a new process with mail-in voting, we see that there's problems with the post office,” DeNard said. “I’d just have to see how they can guarantee my safety when I put my vote in.”

Boone County’s Clerk wants voters to know all ballots are accounted for. 

“There's a misconception that if we reject a ballot, it means we basically toss it out. That's not the case,” said Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon.

The FBI also announced last month there’s no evidence of widespread mail-in voting fraud.

The clerk’s office said they want to make all options accessible for local voters. 

Lennon also said they are expanding the in-person absentee process by including curbside voting. They are also working on absentee satellite locations in the community.

All voters, except those who are confined due to illness, incapacitated or at risk for COVID-19 must notarize the back of the ballot envelope. This prevents someone from fraudulently casting another voter’s ballot. 

If you are incarcerated, a team of election judges could bring the ballot to serve in the role of a notary.

While it’s against state law to charge for notarizing absentee ballots, SB 631 did not require free notarization for mail-in ballots.

The Boone County Clerk’s Office and Daniel Boone Library will notarize ballots at no charge. The Secretary of State’s Office has a list of free notaries by state on their website.

USPS recommends mailing ballots by October 27. Local election authorities must receive completed ballots by 7pm on Election Day. Read our voting guide for deadlines and information on the general election.

The Columbia Missourian also put together a question and answer article as a guide.

Correction: State law requires those who are incarcerated to have their ballot notarized. 

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