Missouri voters at high risk of COVID-19 can now vote absentee in August and November elections
By John Sharp
Missouri voters who are considered at high risk of contracting COVID-19 may vote absentee in the August 4 primary election and the November 3 general election without having to get their signatures on the ballots notarized.
Persons considered at high risk include anyone 65 years of age or older and anyone living in a long-term care facility.
Also included are persons who have diabetes, kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis, liver disease, lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions or whose immune systems are compromised due to other causes.
All other voters who may be concerned about contracting or unintentionally transmitting COVID-19 may cast mail-in ballots in both elections, but their signatures will have to be notarized.
These provisions were included in a measure passed on the last day (May 15) of this year’s session of the Missouri General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Mike Parson on June 4. They will expire on December 31.
New forms will be required to request the absentee ballots for high risk voters and the mail-in ballots. Lauri Ealom, Democratic director of the Kansas City Election Board, said the agency just got draft forms from the state after office hours on June 5 and hopes to have them customized for Kansas City and on the agency’s website www.kceb.org by June 12.
Persons who are permanently disabled also can continue to cast absentee ballots without getting their signatures notarized, and they can request that the Election Board automatically send them an application for every election.
Voters also can continue to request absentee ballots if they expect to be absent from the jurisdiction on election day, if they are incapacitated due to illness or physical disability or if they are caring for someone ill or incapacitated or if they are employed by an election authority that day at a polling place other than their own. Their signatures have to be notarized.
Applications for these traditional types of absentee voting are available now on the Election Board’s website. Applications for absentee and mail-in ballots must be received by the Board no later than 5 p.m. July 22 for the August 4 primary.
Persons also may begin casting absentee ballots for the August primary in person at the Election Board offices in Union Station on Monday, June 22. In person absentee voting will be allowed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through August 3 and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, August 1. Persons should call the Board office at 816-842-4820 or go to its website to find out which of its two offices will be used for absentee voting.
Absentee and mail-in ballots must be received in the mail no later than 7 p.m. election day to be counted.
Election authorities are expecting a much bigger turnout in August than in the June 2 municipal and school board election, especially since Governor Parson on May 26 decided to put a proposal submitted by the citizens group Healthcare for Missouri through the initiative petition process which garnered nearly 350,000 signatures to expand Medicaid coverage in Missouri on the August ballot.
The proposal would expand the eligibility threshold for Medicaid coverage to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, estimated to make Medicaid coverage available to about 230,000 Missourians currently without healthcare coverage.
Under the U.S. Affordable Care Act, the federal government would cover 90 percent of the cost of expansion. Only 14 states including Missouri have not implemented Medicaid expansion.
Shawn Kieffer, Republican director of the Election Board, said he hopes that for the August election the agency will be able to approximately double the 27 polling places in the Jackson County part of Kansas City that were used in the June election and to approximately triple the June number in November when a much greater turnout is expected due to the presidential election.