Commentary

Missouri election law has changed. Here’s what voters need to know to cast a ballot

If you have questions about the new election law, reach out directly to your local election authority. We want to ensure that every eligible voter can make their voice heard on Nov. 8.(Bill Pugliano/Getty Images).

Election Day is just over a month away and a lot has changed for voters since the last time they cast a ballot.

A new elections law went into effect after the August primary election and, as local election authorities, we have an obligation to educate voters about what to expect when they vote this fall. We want Missourians to be informed, confident and — most importantly — engaged voters so we’ve made a list to prepare them for Nov. 8.

Bring a photo ID to the polls 

Voters that cast a ballot in person at their polling place or during absentee voting will need to show a photo ID issued by the state of Missouri or federal government, such as a Missouri driver’s license, Missouri non-driver’s license, a U.S. passport, or military ID. Importantly, you do NOT need a REAL ID to vote and the address on your ID does NOT need to match the address on your voter registration.

The state does have resources available to help voters obtain a free photo ID so we encourage them to contact the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office for more information.

Voters without a photo ID can still vote

If a voter does not have one of these IDs, they can still cast a blue provisional ballot, which will be counted after the election if their signature matches the signature on their voter registration record.

This option does require more time to fill out both the envelope and the ballot, so we encourage voters without a photo ID to plan ahead and budget extra time. The more preparation that voters can do before going to vote, the better their experience will be.

In the spirit of expectation-setting, we also want voters to be aware that increased numbers of blue provisional ballots may impact the timing of election results. It’s important to check each provisional ballot with care so our bipartisan teams will adjudicate provisional ballots during the certification period following the election. This means that the results close races may take a bit longer to certify if a large number of blue provisional envelopes are outstanding on election night. It’s not an indication of any issue or problem—it’s simply how the law is appropriately implemented.

There are no changes to mail absentee voting

We’ve heard concerns from voters, particularly those who are permanently disabled or homebound, about whether they’ll be able to continue voting by mail. The answer is yes. Absentee voting by mail is still valid and a photo ID is not required for those voters.

Voters can also take advantage of a new no-excuse absentee voting period

Beginning Oct. 25 and continuing through 5 p.m. on Nov. 7, all registered voters can vote in person at their local election office without giving a reason. This is an incredibly convenient option for voters that is no different than election day voting. We are looking forward to the opportunity it provides to hopefully lessen the length of election day lines and help increase voter turnout across our state.

Registered Missouri voters can update their address at any time, including on Election Day, even if they move counties

This relatively minor change in the law will have serious benefits for voters. College students that registered to vote as seniors in high school in their home county and need to update their address to their new dorm the day before the election, Christian  County voters who move to Greene County or vice-versa the week before the election, and recent retirees from Callaway that downsize to a senior living community in Boone County the weekend before the election will now all have the opportunity to cast a ballot on Election Day.

Lastly, please remember that if you have questions about the new election law, reach out directly to your local election authority. We want to ensure that every eligible voter can make their voice heard on Nov. 8.

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Brianna Lennon
Brianna Lennon

Brianna Lennon was elected as Boone County Clerk in November 2018. She is a graduate of Truman State University and holds a Master's in Public Policy and a law degree, both from the University of Missouri. Prior to her election as Boone County Clerk, she served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division of the Missouri Attorney General's Office before joining the Missouri Secretary of State's Office under former Secretary Jason Kander. As the Deputy Director of Elections and first coordinator of the Election Integrity Unit in the Secretary of State's Office, she worked closely with local election authorities across the state to ensure that elections were simple, secure, and accessible for voters.

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Shane Schoeller
Shane Schoeller

Shane Schoeller was elected Greene County Clerk in 2014. Before serving as Greene County’s chief election official, Schoeller served in the Missouri House of Representatives from a district covering parts of northern Greene County, including the city of Springfield. While in the House, Schoeller served on committees that reviewed budget appropriations, utilities, taxation and revenue, and chaired the Disaster Recovery Committee after the Joplin tornado of 2011. He was the Republican nominee for Missouri Secretary of State in 2012, winning a competitive three-way primary before being narrowly defeated in the general election. He went on to serve as the executive director for the Missouri Republican Party.

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