Voting this fall can be done in two ways - in person or by absentee ballots. This isn't new. Every election, you've always had both options, but never has absentee ballots been so heavily encouraged. My article will mostly focus on by mail voting for Missourians this fall. There's a bit to learn about this process, so I hope you read through the entire article. It's worth it.
But before we begin,
the one thing I want you to remember from this article is this - if you are voting by mail, PLEASE mail it 3 weeks before Election Day.
Why? It usually takes the mail 2-3 weeks for any article of mail to reach the desired location, especially if it is going across the country.
That means you should cast your absentee ballot on Tuesday, October 13 for Election Day.
Mark your calendar right now with a big reminder before you forget.
Have you marked your calendar yet?
If you mail it on October 13, it should arrive before November 3 (Election Day).
Seriously, mark your calendar.
Hope you did it 😁
Alright! Now let's talk about the specifics about voting by mail.
There are two subsets of voting by mail - absentee or mail-in voting.
From what I've learned, absentee voters usually need to ask for a ballot, fill out a form, and sign that form to authenticate the request. Mail-in voting is done by the state government's sending ballots to all registered voters in that state - which is another great reason to register for voting way before an election year. Voter fraud is less likely with absentee voting.
Some states required you to fill out an excuse as to WHY you can't vote in person. Some states might STILL require other Americans to fill out an excuse, but Missourians don't have to worry about getting an excuse approved this fall thanks to a new law.
Here's the bad news - most Missourians will need to have their absentee or mail-in votes notarized.
Getting a ballot notarized means you'll need to have a notary, a public official, approve your ballot.
What does a notary public do? Well -
"A notary public is a public official appointed by a state government to *help deter fraud.* Notary publics witness the signing of important documents and verify the identity of the signer(s), their willingness to sign the documents, and their awareness of the contents of the document or transaction.
Institutions rely upon notaries so they may have full faith in important documents. After witnessing a signing, a notary public applies their own details, such as their signature, seal, and notary commission details. When you see a notary's seal on a document, it means a notary public verified that the transaction authentic and properly executed.
Having a document notarized is the same as swearing under oath in a court of law—you are saying that the facts contained in the document are true."
- Notarize.com in the article "What does it mean to have a document notarized with a notary public signature?"
Governor Mike Parson and others in our government really want to deter fraud in this election, so they are requiring most Missourians to have their ballots notarized before they are mailed-in. Critics say requiring a notarization doesn't help voters concerned about being more exposed to COVID-19 during this election season.
Recap - most Missourians have to go into a location (hopefully close to where they live) to get their vote approved before they can send it in. There are lots of FREE places in Missouri to talk to a notary and get the ballot notarized, which is GREAT! But critics say people might as well just vote in person on Election Day since most mail-in votes need to go indoors and talk to a notary (and probably with other voters there, too).
My opinion about that:
I think if you time it out right, you could probably go in and get your ballot notarized late September/early October and not have to deal with a lot of people doing the same thing. Most people already know who they are voting for, so why not go early into a notary place when there's less of a crowd? I really think mail-in voting (whenever you're ready, but at the very latest on October 13) will be safer than voting at the polls on Election Day.
Also, if many Missourians are comfortable being out and about, I doubt they'll mind voting in person OR going in early and getting their ballot notarized.
The following PDF describes who NEEDS and who DOES *NOT* need a notary when voting absentee.
LOOK AT THIS WEBSITE if you want to know all the FREE places where you can get your ballot NOTARIZED in the state Missouri!
Many places want you to contact the office and *make an appointment with them first!*
I think I will be doing a mail-in ballot, so I'm going to repost the information about that below in case you want to do the same:
Governor Parson signed Senate Bill 631 into law on June 4, 2020, which authorizes mail-in ballots for the August 4, 2020 primary election and the November 3, 2020 general election to avoid the risk of contracting or transmitting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (COVID-19).
Registered Missouri voters can request mail-in ballots from their local election authority in person or by mail. Relatives within the second degree (spouse, parents and children) may complete a mail-in ballot application, in person, on behalf of the voter who wishes to vote using a mail-in ballot. DO NOT SEND MAIL-IN BALLOT APPLICATIONS TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. MAIL-IN BALLOT APPLICATIONS MUST BE SENT TO THE APPROPRIATE LOCAL ELECTION AUTHORITY BY THE DEADLINE IN ORDER TO BE VALID. Contact information for local election authorities and a mail-in ballot application form may be found at the links below.
- Local Election Authority Contact Information
- Request for Missouri Absentee or Mail-In Ballot - August 4, 2020 Primary Election
- Request for Missouri Mail-In Ballot
Mail-in ballot requests that are sent by mail must be received by the election authority no later than 5:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday *prior* to any election. Voters requesting a mail-in ballot by mail who have registered by mail and have not voted in person are required to submit a copy of their personal identification unless they provided a copy with their registration application. Examples of acceptable identification are:
- Identification issued by the state of Missouri, an agency of the state, or a local election authority of the state;
- Identification issued by the United States government or agency thereof;
- Identification issued by an institution of higher education, including a university, college, vocational and technical school, located within the state of Missouri;
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter; or
- Other identification approved by the secretary of state under rules promulgated pursuant to Missouri law.
Mail-in ballots must be returned by mail in the provided envelope, with the statement on the envelope signed and witnessed by a notary. *****In order to be counted,***** mail-in ballots must be received by the election authority at or before the time fixed by law for the closing of the polls on Election Day (7:00 p.m.).
All of the above information was taken from this website: https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/howtovote#Mail
Just to be super super super sure your vote will count, go through all the right steps and do it so you can send it in by OCTOBER 13. It's a Tuesday.
I know there are other things you might be curious about that I didn't cover here, or maybe you didn't understand my explanations. I suggest going to the following link for further research or to find people to answer your questions. The link is to the home page for how to vote in Missouri.
Thank you for reading all of this! Remember, if you're voting by mail-in ballots, do it by October 13. PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR with a BIG ALARM before you forget.