As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across Missouri, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft stopped at Rosecrans Memorial Airport in St. Joseph to tout in-person voting and options for those who wish to vote without heading to the polls.
Ashcroft told assembled local media and officials that those who are “at-risk” for contracting the coronavirus can vote absentee without having their ballot notarized, as can those who are incapacitated or confined to their homes due to illness.
“First off, in-person voting will of course be safe,” Ashcroft said as he explained the options. “When you vote in person, and when you fill out that ballot and when you then run it through the scanner, if that scanner gives you the green light you know that your vote was tabulated.”
According to the secretary of state’s website, those considered “at-risk” under the absentee voter law are those who are 65 or older, live in a long-term care facility, have asthma or chronic lung disease, have a “serious” heart condition, are immunocompromised, have diabetes, have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis, have liver disease or previously contracted COVID-19.
Voters also can vote absentee with a notary if they are a poll worker, are incarcerated, can’t vote in person because of religious beliefs, are absent from their local jurisdiction on election day or are a participant in the Safe at Home program.
Voting by mail, which is legally different from absentee voting, is also available. Those who wish to exercise that option must request a ballot in person or by mail, must have their ballot notarized and must return the ballot by mail.
Absentee ballots can be dropped off in person at a local county clerk’s office unlike ballots obtained through the vote-by mail-program. Ashcroft said notaries may not charge to notarize an absentee ballot but can charge to notarize a vote by mail ballot.
Social distancing and mask procedures at the polls will be the responsibility of local election officials, according to Ashcroft.
Ashcroft said the state has seen some “irregularities” in the past from ballots that are submitted in some other form than in person (such as absentee ballots) but declined to label the problem as “significant.”
Nicole Galloway, a Democratic candidate for governor, has called for Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, to issue an executive order allowing anyone to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a type of blanket excuse to vote absentee without a notary.
The Missouri Supreme Court previously ruled in June that a lawsuit seeking to allow all voters to cast absentee ballots without a notary can proceed after the lawsuit was initially dismissed by a lower court.