SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Springfield Mayor Ken McClure and Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller held a briefing Wednesday at the U.S. Post Office in Springfield urging voters to request an absentee or mail-in ballot as soon as possible.
The last day to request an absentee or mail-in ballot is October 21st, but Schoeller and McClure say now is not the time to procrastinate.
“We firmly believe that this is not the year to wait out the clock; this is the year to beat the clock and make that request now,” said Schoeller.
Schoeller reminded the public about requesting an absentee or mail-in ballot, the instances the ballots need to be notarized, and which excuses do not need notarized.
Missouri is one of only six states that does not have ballot tracking options for voters.
Schoeller says it might be an option in future Missouri elections.
“The technology behind tracking your ballot is very limited…basically, we can know when the ballot has left the postal service and then when the voter has dropped it back to be mail back to us,” said Schoeller.
For now, Schoeller says you can email the Clerk’s Office at email@example.com or call the office at (417) 868-4055, and staff will check to see if they have received your ballot.
But what if there’s an error or discrepancy with your absentee or mail-in ballot?
Because there is no way for Missourians to track it, some might worry whether their vote will be counted.
Schoeller says the Clerk’s Office is working to notify folks of any ballots found to have errors, so voters can get it cleared up before the election.
“What we’re doing this year is if we get a ballot back that needed to be notarized and it wasn’t, or maybe it didn’t need to be notarized, but they didn’t get the signature, we’re following up with those voters to let them know there’s an issue with that ballot,” said Schoeller
It’s another reason why he’s asking voters to request your ballots early and get them back to the Clerk’s Office as soon as possible.
“That’s one of the reasons we encourage people to make your request as soon as possible because if there is that issue, it gives the voter more time to resolve it, and the office more time to get ahold of them because the tighter that window gets, the harder it is to get that issue resolved for the voter.”
Schoeller says there have been instances where voters may be confused or unsure of how to fill out a ballot and told Ozarks First some easy mistakes folks can make:
- When requesting an absentee ballot, make sure only to choose ONE reason or excuse.
- If you choose more than one, the Clerk’s Office must contact you to clarify whether your ballot needs to be notarized or not.
- When getting the ballot notarized, make sure the notary signs AND stamps the envelope.
- Schoeller says if they are unsure of where to stamp it, use the “assisting person” area since that portion is only used for non-notary required ballots.
“And we just did a quick redesign, and we now have a specific place for the notary stamp to make it even better for the voter.”
If you have requested a mail-in ballot, and don’t think you’ll be able to mail it back to the Clerk’s office by the time the polls close on Election Day, Schoeller says you still have options.
“If you don’t think there’s time for your mail-in ballot or absentee ballot to make it back and you’re in Greene County, and you think you qualify for [an absentee] ballot for one of the reasons, bring that back. We will spoil that, issue you an absentee ballot for one of the reasons you select.”
Schoeller says anyone who has already requested an absentee or mail-in ballot but decides instead to vote at the polls on Election Day should bring their ballot and have a poll worker nullify it to ensure your in-person ballot is the only one counted.
“If you don’t qualify for a reason as a mail-in ballot voter, you can come on Election Day, surrender that ballot, we’ll spoil it and issue the voter a new ballot at their assigned polling location or central polling location,” said Schoeller.