Our lives have been turned upside down by COVID-19. This pandemic is entering into yet another month with no end in sight. At the same time, it is important for life to continue.

Part of this includes having the ability to participate in next month’s general election. Because of legislation passed during the 2020 legislative session, Missourians have several options when it comes to voting on Election Day.

Absentee voting has taken on a new importance during this pandemic. Usually, Missourians can request an absentee ballot for one of six reasons: illness, absence from the district on Election Day, service as a poll worker, religious beliefs or practices, incarceration while still eligible to vote or having to be in an address confidentiality program. By law, all absentee ballots must be notarized. If someone votes absentee at the courthouse, the clerk will provide the notary service. If a person chooses to submit an absentee ballot by mail, a notary must certify the ballot. Notaries are not allowed to charge a fee for certifying absentee ballots.

This year, people may also request an absentee ballot, if they meet certain criteria related to COVID-19. Absentee ballots may be submitted without a notary, if someone is age 65 or older, resides in a long-term care facility, is immunocompromised or has been diagnosed with diabetes, liver disease, a serious heart condition, chronic lung disease or asthma or has chronic kidney disease and undergoing dialysis. A person only needs to meet one of these criteria to submit an absentee ballot without a notary seal.

Absentee ballots may be requested in-person at the county clerk’s office through Monday, Nov. 2. Completed absentee ballots may be submitted in-person or by mail, but the ballot must be received by the election authority before 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Active duty members of the military, whether stationed overseas or in the United States, and registered Missouri voters living overseas can learn about voter registration and casting their ballot by visiting www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/registeroverseas.

Absentee ballots submitted by qualifying military members and overseas voters must be received by election authorities prior to noon on Friday, Nov. 6.

Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, represents District 12 in the Missouri Senate. His constituency includes part of Clay County, including Kearney. Hegeman can be reached at (573) 751-1415 or dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov.

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