You've got one more week to request a mail-in ballot in Missouri. Here's how to do it
If you're looking to vote by mail for the November election and you haven't requested your ballot, it's time to get moving.
The deadline to request one is 5 p.m. next Wednesday, and officials like Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller and Springfield Mayor Ken McClure are urging voters not to wait until the last minute.
Here's what you need to do to get started.
Absentee or mail-in?
The first thing you need to do is pick your option: absentee or "mail-in."
Both let you vote via the postal service, but absentee ballots offer some extra convenience if you qualify.
To vote absentee, you'll need an excuse defined in state law, the first six of which are as follows (pay attention to the numbers):
- You'll be outside the county on Election Day;
- You're incapacitated or confined "due to illness or physical disability," or you're primarily responsible for taking care of a person who is;
- 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.
This year only, there's also a special seventh excuse you can use if you've contracted COVID-19 or you meet at-risk criteria defined as:
- 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 immunocompromised;
- You have diabetes;
- You have chronic kidney disease and you're undergoing dialysis; or
- You have liver disease.
You can vote absentee if any of those things describe you, but if you qualify for multiple excuses and one of them is No. 2 or No. 7, you're going to want to pick No. 2 or No. 7 to save some time later on.
If none of those excuses describe you, you'll want to request a "mail-in” ballot.
How to request a ballot
You can request either kind of ballot in-person or by mail, and you can also request an absentee ballot by fax or email. (That’s where that some of that extra convenience comes in.)
To request a ballot in-person, you’ll need to go to your election authority’s office, which in Jackson County is 215 N. Liberty, Independence. That's for Jackson County residents outside Kansas City.
You can also go to https://jcebmo.org.
Other clerks’ information is available at sos.mo.gov/elections/govotemissouri/localelectionauthority.
To request a ballot by mail, you’ll need to either print out a request form online at sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri/2020FillableBallotApplication-GeneralElection.pdf or 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 the form or letter filled out, you'll need to send it to your local clerk’s office.
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If you live in Jackson County, you’ll want to address it to "Jackson County Election Board, 215 N. Liberty St., Independence, MO 64051."
Now, if you’re voting an absentee ballot, you can also fax or email copies of those forms or letters. (Yes, emailing a smartphone photo of your request is fine.) The Jackson County Election Board fax is 816-325-4609.
How to vote
Once you receive your ballot in the mail, you'll want to fill it out and remember to sign and seal your ballot envelope.
At that point, if you're voting absentee and you chose either excuse No. 2 (you're confined due to illness) or No. 7 (you've contracted or are at risk for COVID-19), this is where that comes in handy. You're done, and you can either your envelope back to your local election authority by mail or drop it off at your clerk’s office in-person.
Now, if you're voting absentee with one of the five other excuses, you can return your ballot to your local election authority in-person without another step, but if you want to mail it back, you need to get it notarized.
All non-absentee mail-in ballots, which must be returned by mail, need to be notarized, too.
Many clerk's offices, banks and libraries offer the service, and the Secretary of State’s office has compiled a list of organizations and individuals volunteering to provide services free of charge at https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/MailinNotary.
Once that's done, you can put your envelope in the mail.
All ballots must be received at the clerk's office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.