What is Absentee Voting?
If you are unable to make it to your local poll station on Election Day, you might qualify for absentee voting. Missouri allows registered voters to send in ballots by mail if you:
- will be absent from your jurisdiction on Election Day
- are ill or disabled
- are caring for an incapacitated person
- are restricted by religious belief or practice
- are employed as an election official
- are incarcerated, but have retained voting rights
If you qualify, you may vote absentee beginning six weeks before an election.
How Do I Request an Absentee Ballot?
If you qualify for an absentee ballot, you can request one from your local election officials by mail, in person or by fax. The form can also be found online through the Secretary of State’s office.
Is It True that Absentee Ballots Aren’t Counted?
Election officials are required to count absentee ballots just like any other ballot. If it is received on time, it will count. And because elections often come down to just a few votes, absentee ballots can make or break an election. In 2018, for instance, a Maryland election was decided by just nine votes. The three states that decided the 2016 presidential election were all decided by less than one percentage point. Every vote matters!
What Deadlines Should I Keep in Mind?
If you plan on voting absentee, voting officials must receive your absentee application the Wednesday before Election Day by 5 p.m.
Voting officials must receive your actual ballot by the time that polls close on Election Day. This means if you plan to mail your ballot, you should send it multiple days in advance. Plan ahead!
What Common Mistakes Occur When Voting Absentee?
The most common mistake absentee voters make is that their ballot is not received on time. Remember that election officials have to receive your ballot by the time polls close. If you plan on voting absentee, plan ahead!
Voters are also required to sign both the ballot and the ballot envelope.
Voters, unfortunately, often forget to sign the ballot envelope. If you are voting absentee, double-check that you have filled out everything completely and signed both the ballot and the envelope.
Where Can I Learn More About Absentee Voting?
Websites such as vote.org and headcount.org contain more information about voting in Missouri (as well as other states, if you want to share information with someone who isn’t a Missourian). Vote.org can send voters directly to the absentee voting form and can be more user-friendly than the official government website.