Since June, I have been telling Missouri voters through print, TV and radio interviews to request absentee or mail-in ballots early and to return them to their local election authority without delay. With more than 10 weeks before the Nov. 3 election, there is no reason to think the sky is falling.
Missouri’s election night reporting has been a success. Missourians have come to expect they will know the winners and losers before they go to sleep. It instills confidence in our elections, knowing that the ballots you have cast have been counted that night by Missouri’s 116 local election authorities and reported to the Secretary of State’s office.
Moving the deadline to count mailed votes does nothing to instill confidence. It would simply drag out election reporting for days. The simple solution to this problem lies in the hands of voters: If you wish to vote by absentee or mail-in ballot, complete an application soon and submit it to your local election authority (LEA). Then, complete your ballot when you receive it and return it to your LEA.
By law, LEAs must begin mailing absentee and mail-in ballots to voters six weeks before the election – that’s Sept. 22. This provides a window of time for processing and printing ballots and also provides plenty of time for a voter to receive, complete and return a ballot. For two months now, I have been encouraging voters to mail their ballots at least two weeks before the election; that held true for the Aug. 4 election, too.
The sky is not falling. If you wish to vote by absentee or mail-in ballot, you have ample time, but voting in person is still the best option to ensure your vote is counted.