New rules for absentee voting in Missouri: More complicated than ever

In the final hour of the 2020 legislative session, the Missouri Senate passed SB631, which would allow Missourians to vote absentee by mail in 2020 in the upcoming August and November elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However—and this is a big one—unless you expect to be confined, ill or in a specified high-risk category for COVID-19, the absentee mail-in ballot still must be notarized. The provisions will go into effect once the bill is signed by the Governor. It will expire on December 31, 2020 so this provision will not continue beyond that date. At that point, the rules will revert to the confusing state of being that existed before SB631. So just when you’ve figured out what to do in 2020, the rules will change back again in 2021–adding a further level of consternation to a situation that could easily be remedied by simply allowing no-excuse absentee voting–as is allowed in 29 states and Washington, D.C. (in addition to Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Hawaii and Washington, where all voting is conducted by mail.)

The Missouri Voter Protection Coalition has created this chart in an effort to clarify the changes. The chart is a worthy effort to explain the overly complicated rules. No doubt, the new “system” will generate many calls to election hotlines across the state.