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With changes in Missouri election law, here’s what voters need to know to cast a ballot

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 local election authorities have an obligation to educate voters about what to expect when they vote this fall. Missourians should be informed, confident and — most importantly — engaged voters. Here’s a list to prepare 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, voters should 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

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

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 a convenient option for voters that is no different than election-day voting. It may help lessen the length of election-day lines and help increase voter turnout across our state.

Update a home address at any time, including on Election Day

This relatively minor change in the law will have serious benefits for voters. For example, college students who 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; recent retirees from Callaway who downsize to a senior living community in Boone County the weekend before the election — all will now have the opportunity to cast a ballot on Election Day.

Anyone who has questions about the new election law should reach out directly to their local election authority. St. Louis city residents should contact the Board of Election Commissioners for the city.

Every eligible voter can make their voice heard on Nov. 8.

This article by Brianna Lennon and Shane Schoeller, both local Missouri election officials, is published from The Missouri Independent through a Creative Commons license.

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