Jackson County election officials say they’re preparing to have the April 7 general election as scheduled.
But they would certainly prefer the election be postponed due to coronavirus concerns.
The Jackson County Election Board has joined with 45 other counties to petition the Western Appeals Court of Missouri to move the April 7 election to June 2. Board directors Tammy Brown and Corey Dillon say the petition would be filed as early as Tuesday, and they expect to receive a decision soon after filing.
If approved, absentee voting would continue up to June 2, and the last day to request a mail-in ballot would be May 20.
Dillon said Greene County election officials led the charge with a similar appeal to the Southern District, and the eastern counties are also appealing to have the election moved.
The announcement comes a day after Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said the April 7 election is still on statewide despite the current pandemic. In a statement, Ashcroft said he’s had an “open, ongoing dialogue” with local election officials, and that “We have been actively planning and discussing different scenarios that may occur over the next several weeks.”
“This is not just business as usual,” Ashcroft said, adding that “we all understand the ramifications of the potential spread of COVID-19, particularly to Missourians who are over age 60 and those with conditions that make them more susceptible to severe symptoms.”
There’s a lot on the ballot next month, including:
• City Council and mayoral elections in Blue Springs.
• City Council elections in Independence.
• School board elections in Blue Springs, Fort Osage, Grain Valley, Lee’s Summit, Oak Grove.
• School bond issues in Grain Valley and Lee’s Summit.
• Two bond questions in Grain Valley for a new municipal complex.
• Mayoral and aldermanic elections in Grain Valley and Oak Grove.
• A sales tax question for Sugar Creek fire service.
• Council elections and a use tax question in Lee’s Summit.
Election officials such as Dillon are working to ensure polling locations will be safe and secure, preparing as if the election will happen April 7, but they face a multi-faceted problem, beyond simply having a healthy setup with the recommended social distancing.
For one, some election judges and volunteers have backed out for health reasons or precautions, and many of them fall into the at-risk age population. Second, some usual polling places like churches, schools, libraries or a large assisted living center might still be closed if they’re not already guaranteed to be.
“I don’t know if we’re able to get enough election judges to cover the polls,” Dillon said. “Every day we’re getting more calls that they can’t be a judge. If the churches decide we can’t use them, I don’t know what we’d do.”
“We’re just going to have to do the best job we can,” she said. “That’s the challenge of moving forward.”