It’s Still an Election Year?

In the midst of a global pandemic and an ongoing social movement, it’s easy to overlook that it’s still an election year. This year life has looked a little different than years prior, and the elections will be no different. 

With the constant flow of information we’ve all received over the past months, it’s hard to sift through and find what is real and relevant. 

Here is what is true about the 2020 Primary and General Elections…

When are the elections? 

The Primary Election is Tuesday August 4, 2020, polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; the last date to register for the primary election is Wednesday July 8, 2020.

The General Election will take place on Tuesday November 3rd, 2020, polls open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; the last day to register being Wednesday October 7th, 2020.


Isn’t there still a global pandemic? What are my options to help maintain safety while performing my civic duty?

This year in addition to absentee voting, anyone can vote by mail using a mail-in ballot. This is intended to decrease crowds at polling places and reduce the risk for transmission and contraction of COVID-19 in our state on election day. 

As always in Missouri, voters have the option to vote using absentee ballots if they fall in one of these groups: 

  • Absence on Election Day from the jurisdiction of the election authority in which such voter is registered to vote
  • Incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, including a person who is primarily responsible for the physical care of a person who is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability
  • Religious belief or practice
  • Employment as an election authority, as a member of an election authority, or by an election authority at a location other than such voter's polling place
  • Incarceration, provided all qualifications for voting are retained
  • Certified participation in the address confidentiality program established under sections 589.660 to 589.681 because of safety concerns
  • For an election that occurs during the year 2020, the voter has contracted or is in an at-risk category for contracting or transmitting severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (COVID-19)

Who is considered at-risk for contracting COVID-19?

For the primary and general elections, absentee voting has been extended to include those who have contracted or are at-risk of contracting COVID-19.

Considered to be at-risk include those who:

  • Are 65 years of age or older
  • Live in a long-term care facility licensed under Chapter 198, RSMo.
  • Have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Have serious heart conditions
  • Are immunocompromised
  • Have diabetes
  • Have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis
  • Have liver disease

How do you request an absentee ballot? 

Absentee ballots can be requested from the local election authority by mail, by fax, by email, or in person. 

Find your local election authority by searching your county here

Here in St. Louis City the election authority is the St. Louis City Board of Elections, located at 

300 N. Tucker Blvd.

St. Louis, MO 63101

They can be reached by phone at (314) 622-4336 or by fax at (314) 622-3587.

Those planning to vote absentee ballots can download a request for absentee ballot form from the board of elections for the primary or general election. The request must be received by the board of elections by 5 p.m. on July 22, 2020 for the primary election and October 21, 2020 for the general election.

Who can vote by mail?

On June 4, 2020 governor Parsons signed senate bill 631, authorizing mail-in ballots for the primary and general elections this year as a measure to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19.

Any registered Missouri voter can request a mail-in ballot from the local election authority by-mail or in-person. 

How do I request a Mail-in ballot?

Similar to the absentee ballot, mail-in ballots should be requested from the local election authority either by mail or in person. The request for the primary or general absentee ballots can be found online, downloaded, printed, filled out and returned to the election authority. 

These requests must be received by the local election authority by 5 p.m. the second Wednesday before the election, meaning July 22nd and October 21st respectively.

There is one notable extra step for those who are voting for the first time this election which is not mentioned on the application itself. Those who registered to vote by mail AND for the first time must also attach a copy of their personal identification when requesting a mail-in ballot UNLESS it was attached to their registration paperwork. Personal identification can be:

  • Identification issued by the state of Missouri, an agency of the state, or a local election authority of the state;
  • Identification issued by the United States government or agency thereof;
  • Identification issued by an institution of higher education, including a university, college, vocational and technical school, located within the state of Missouri;
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter; or
  • Other identification approved by the secretary of state under rules promulgated pursuant to Missouri law

Does my ballot need to be notarized?

Those voting by absentee ballot due to being disabled, active military, or having contracted or in an at-risk category for the Coronavirus do NOT need to sign their ballot envelope in the presence of a notary public. 

This means those who are not able to vote in-person because of religious practice, absence on election day, incarceration, a confidentiality program, working the election, or choosing to vote by mail to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and are not in the at-risk group MUST have their ballots notarized.

The Secretary of State has provided a list of free notary services for mail-in ballots, as SB 631 did not authorize free notarization for mail-in ballots. 

The St. Louis Public Library in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis will be offering Mail-in Ballot Notary Services at select branches July 25th-29th, see the SLPL post for details.

Other Resources

As with every election, it’s up to the voters to ensure that their vote is counted. 

The Missouri Secretary of State elections web page hosts a wealth of information . 

Missourians can access a Voter Outreach Portal, here you can see your election date, registration deadline, polling place, the jurisdiction in which you reside, the candidates and issues that will be on your ballot, and more. 

Make sure to double check that you have the proper identification needed to ensure your civic duty experience runs smoothly.

For more voting content, SLPL's Social Sciences blog has written about Voter Suppression and Voting Accessibility.

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