JOHNSON COUNTY— Absentee voting for the November General Election begins Tuesday, Sept. 27. Absentee voting is available for voters not able to make it to the polls on election day.
“Absentee voting in some form has been in use since the Civil War and is an important tool that allows voters unable to get to their polling place on election day to still be able to cast their ballot, County Clerk Diane Thompson said. “We have several options for absentee voting: by mail, in person, through the MOVOTE portal for military and overseas citizens.”
Absentee voting begins six weeks prior to the election. A new house bill has now made some changes and added more reasons to register and use an absentee ballot.
“Absentee voting is available to voters for a variety of reasons,” Thompson said. “The two most commonly used reasons are absence from the County on election day and incapacitated due to illness or injury.”
The new House Bill, HB 1878 made a few changes to absentee voting that will be effective for the Nov. 8 election. There will now be a two-week period of in-person, no excuse absentee voting. Voters that choose to vote in the two-week no excuse period can vote between Oct. 25 and Nov. 7.
The second change involves changes to some of the reasons voters give as an excuse for absentee voting. With HB 1878 first responders, health care workers and members of law enforcement are now listed on the absentee application.
The pandemic had a huge impact on absentee voting, but Thompson doesn’t think the absentee numbers will be that high again.
“We saw record numbers of absentee voters cast ballots in the August and November 2020 elections due to the pandemic,” Thompson said. “I don’t anticipate we will see those numbers again for this election. As more voters become aware of the two week no excuse absentee period, I believe we will see an uptick in our absentee numbers. Thanks to the incredible election workers that we have at our polling locations, we typically don’t have wait times over ten to fifteen minutes, even in our biggest elections. We likely won’t see more voters turn out overall. We just may see more come into the office and cast their ballot ahead of election day.”
For some absentee voters, a concern is whether or not their vote gets counted. Thompson says that requesting for absentee ballots as early as possible and follow all of the requirements should guarantee that your vote is counted. According to law absentee ballots cannot be corrected.
“Casting a ballot into the DS200 tabulator, whether it is at the polls or as an absentee in the Voter Registration office gives the voter the assurance that their ballot has been counted,” Thompson said. “Voters that need to cast an absentee ballot by mail due to school, work, military service or any other issue that keeps them from voting in person should ensure that they request a ballot by mail as early as possible. Absentee voting begins September 27 and we are already receiving requests for absentee ballots by mail.”
“Voters should mark their ballot as soon as they receive it, place it in the return envelope provided and get it back in the mail. The voter should follow all of the included instructions, including signing the absentee envelope and having their signature notarized if it is required.” Due to changes in law, absentee ballot envelopes cannot be corrected if a voter fails to sign or notarize their absentee envelope, deeming the ballot uncountable.
“We send detailed instructions as well as mark signature and notary lines with “sign here” stickers,” Thompson said. “If voters follow the instructions and return their ballot timely, it will be counted. If a voter is concerned about their ballot arriving late, they can hand deliver it to the Voter Registration office in lieu of sending it through the mail.”
Absentee ballots can be received at the Voter Registration office until 7 p.m. on Election Day,.
Sample ballots are available in the Voter Registration office, by mail, by email or by visiting the county website. There are several constitutional amendments on the ballot that voters will want time to review prior to marking their ballot. Information on ballot measures can be found at www.sos.mo.gov on the 2022 Ballot Measures link under Initiative and Referendum Petitions tab.
Voters can request an absentee ballot by mail using the application that is on the website (www.jococourthouse.com) or contacting the Voter Registration office at 660-747-7414 for assistance.
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