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Missouri Sec. of State explains new law regarding mail-in voting

For the first time in the state, any registered voter can vote by mail, without providing a reason. A change to the state's law, added on the last day of session this year to account for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted: Sep 24, 2020 7:26 AM
Updated: Sep 24, 2020 8:44 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) While Jay Ashcroft, Missouri's top election authority, was in St. Joseph addressing the county's wrongly worded ballots, he also took the time to discuss the different ways Missourians can cast their vote this election.

Specifically, the state's new voting method, mail-in voting.

“The law has changed in Missouri,” said Jay Ashcroft, Missouri Secretary of State. 

For the first time in the state, any registered voter can vote by mail, without providing a reason. A change to the state's law, added on the last day of session this year to account for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Mail-in ballots is the new thing the senate passed this year for COVID reasons. You don't have to have an excuse, you have to have it notarized and it must be mailed into our office. They have until election day by 7 o’clock for that to arrive by mail in the office. Absentees can be dropped off by a family member or that member by 7 o’clock on election day,” said Mary Baack-Garvey, Buchanan County Clerk. 

Ashcroft said there are downfalls to mail-in voting. Especially, when it comes to mailing the ballots in time to be counted.  

“The U.S. post office has put out information saying that you should only need to leave 6-7 days for your ballot to get back. Do not do that. Leave at least two weeks for your ballot to be mailed back,” said Ashcroft. 

Local political experts said because counting the mail-in ballots could be time consuming, the U.S. won't find out who the newly elected president will be for a while. 

“Will more than likely not be revealed to us by the typical 11 p.m. Eastern Time on election day. So, that is also making the election unusual in that we have to account for the idea that it’s actually election season rather than it is election day,” said Dr. Melina Kovacs, MWSU political science associate professor. 

While mail-in voting is a lawful option this year to offer registered voters a safe way to vote during the pandemic, Ashcroft said voting in-person is the best way to vote.

“When you vote in-person, it’s the best way to make sure your vote counts. We should be pushing people in the state to follow a method that is not only easy for them to vote, but will make sure their vote will count," said Ashcroft. 

The Missouri Secretary of State's office will be sending out a packet, charting the different voting methods for Missourians this year, to 2.2 million voter registered households. 

For questions on voting, call 1-800-NOW-VOTE. 

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A strong cold front has made its way into northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas bringing much cooler air and a lot of clouds across the area. Friday night and Saturday the cold air will continue to be in place with daytime highs only reaching into the 40's. As the weekend continues we will see increasing chances for rain and maybe some snow. A cold start to the beginning of next week with highs only in the 30's and 40's.
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