No changes to Missouri mail-in ballot rules after judge stays own order
Two Missouri courts ruled on the state's mail-in voting laws Friday and Saturday and the bottom line for voters was simple: nothing's changed.
A federal judge in Kansas City briefly allowed voters using mail-in ballots this fall to return them to election authorities in-person Friday. But then he nixed 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.
In a separate case Friday, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled against plaintiffs who wanted all absentee voters to be able to cast their ballots without having to get them notarized first.
That means the rules for absentee voting, which requires one of seven excuses, also remain the same.
You will not need a notarized ballot if one of the following criteria describes you:
- 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 immunocompromised;
- You have diabetes;
- You have chronic kidney disease and you're undergoing dialysis; or
- You have liver disease.
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 https://www.sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri/2020FillableBallotApplication-GeneralElection.pdf.
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 Phelps County:
- mail goes to “Pamela K. Grow, County Clerk, 200 N. Main St., Rolla, MO 65401”;
- emails go to firstname.lastname@example.org;
- faxes go to 573-458-61190; and
- you can submit in-person at 200 N. Main St., in Rolla.
In Greene County:
- mail goes to "County Clerk, 940 N. Boonville Ave., Room 113, Springfield, MO 65802";
- emails go to email@example.com (absentee only);
- faxes go to 417-868-4170 (absentee only); and
- you can submit in-person at 940 N. Boonville Ave., Room 113, in Springfield.
In Christian County:
- mail goes to "Kay Brown, Christian County Clerk, 100 W. Church, Rm 304, Ozark, MO 65721";
- emails go to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (absentee only);
- faxes go to 417-581-8331 (absentee only) ; and
- you can submit in-person at 100 W. Church, Room 304, in Ozark.
In Boone County:
- mail goes to "Boone County Clerk’s Office, 801 E. Walnut St., Room 236, Columbia, MO 65201”
- emails go to firstname.lastname@example.org (absentee only);
- faxes go to 573-886-4300 (absentee only); and
- you can submit in-person in Room 236 of the Boone County Government Center at 9th and Ash streets in Columbia.
Boone County voters can also request ballots through an online portal at bit.ly/3gqU7ax.