Senator Denny Hoskins Capitol Report
In just a few days, voters will go to the polls and cast their ballots. A big change this year will be the large number of votes cast prior to Election Day. Passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senate Bill 631 expanded access to absentee ballots to persons whose medical conditions pose increased risk of contracting COVID-19, and also created a mail-in option for all Missouri voters.
This year, the secretary of state received 60,748 requests for mail-in ballots prior to the October 21 deadline. The demand for absentee ballots was even greater, with 631,615 ballots requested so far. That’s more than double the number of absentee ballots provided in 2016. To put those numbers in perspective, there are more than 4.3 million registered voters in Missouri. More than 2.8 million Missourians voted in the presidential election four years ago.
The deadline for requesting a ballot by mail has passed, but you can still vote absentee at your county clerk’s office through Nov. 2, if you qualify. In addition to traditional reasons for voting absentee – absence from the district on Election Day being the most common – anyone age 65 or older, and those with serious medical conditions, may cast an absentee ballot this year.
If you plan to vote by mail, please follow the directions carefully, and remember mail-in ballots must be notarized. Absentee ballots for voters claiming a coronavirus-related excuse, or those incapacitated due to illness, do NOT need to be notarized. Mail-in ballots cannot be hand-delivered. All mailed ballots (including absentee ballots sent by mail) must arrive at the appropriate county clerk’s office before 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Election authorities will begin counting absentee and mail-in ballots as soon as the polls open at 6 a.m. on Nov. 3. Unlike some states, which accept ballots postmarked on Election Day, Missouri stops accepting mailed ballots once the polls close. For this reason, I don’t expect Missouri will experience the reporting delays anticipated elsewhere. The secretary of state’s office tells me it hopes to have unofficial results – including votes cast by mail-in ballots – posted on the night of the election. Military and overseas votes are not due until noon on Friday, Nov. 6.
If you’re voting in-person on Election Day, you’ll need to bring identification with you to the polling place. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license or state ID, a U.S. government ID, the voter identification card issued by your local election authority or an ID from a Missouri institution of higher education. Absent any of those, a utility bill, bank statement, paystub or government document will suffice, so long as it shows your name and address. To find your voting location, or to learn more about absentee voting, visit the secretary of state’s website at www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/howtovote.
However you cast your ballot, I encourage everyone to vote. I believe this is the most consequential election in decades and every vote counts.
Governor calls Extra Legislative Session
On Oct. 21, the governor announced a second extra legislative session to begin on Nov. 5. Legislators are being called back to Jefferson City to pass a supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021. The legislation will allow Missouri access to federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The governor specifically asks lawmakers to authorize spending on school nutrition services, the Emergency Solutions Grant Program for homelessness prevention, child support payments, job training grants and other programs.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me email@example.com.