Skip to content

Missouri

There are a wide variety of issue areas in which Missouri has opportunities to improve voter access and continue on the progress made in 2020. These improvements will bring Missouri one step closer to a more safe, efficient, and voter-friendly election process. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Missouri should continue its commendable progress in expanding access to mail voting. By passing legislation to make absentee voting not require an excuse, Missouri can give its citizens the opportunity to vote in whichever manner they find safest and most convenient.
Missouri’s current permanent absentee list is not what we would consider a true permanent absentee option, as voters are only sent applications, not ballots, for each election. This increases barriers to the ballot box and increases paperwork (and cost!) for both the voter and the localities. Switching to a true permanent option (and increasing eligibility to all voters, rather than just the permanently disabled) would increase voter access and save the state significant expense by cutting down on the requests they need to process, with localities saving an average of $1 for every request they no longer need to process.
Some counties in Missouri offer an ideal ballot tracking system, but currently there is no statewide system. NVAHI recommends that Missouri implement a ballot tracking system statewide. Ballot tracking software such as Ballot Scout or Ballot TRACE can be a very cost effective tool that increases voter confidence by allowing voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package. It also adds a layer of data for the elections office who can also track the ballots to make sure they have reached their destination. Furthermore, these tools can be used as another modality to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope.
Creating an online portal for voters to request an absentee ballot not only makes it much more convenient for voters, it also would be a boon to election officials. The system could be built to feed directly into the voter registration system to help verify addresses, collect contact information, and to remove administrative steps (and costs!) to process a large amount of requests. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register, current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
Offering secure drop boxes as another method for voters to return ballots are a cost-effective way to reduce strain on the postal system, and are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want an extra bit of reassurance that their ballot makes it to the elections office on time. We highly recommend including provisions to allow for ballots to be received at polling and vote centers, as well as other locations deemed necessary by the clerk.
We highly recommend creating vote centers, or polling locations where any voter in the county can vote. This is a way to streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options.
Expanding accepting of ballots with Election Day postmarks received shortly after election day is a best practice to ensure that voters are given all options to vote their ballot in a timely manner, and one that Missouri already follows: Missouri already offers postmark acceptance for military and overseas voters. Accepting Election Day postmarks is estimated in most jurisdictions to decrease ballot rejection rates by half.
Signature verification can eliminate the need for notary requirements while ensuring the security of the election process, streamlining ballot processing, and lowering barriers for voters.
In the event that a voter’s ballot is rejected, said voter should have the ability to cure any correctable issues with their ballot quickly and simply to lower rejection rates. As more voters use absentee ballots and, understandably, the number of rejected absentee ballots increases, we recommend implementing a Text2Cure system that allows voters to cure their ballots from their phones.
Processing mail ballots to get them ready for counting before election day will help Missouri get faster election results. Missouri has 5 days of preprocessing, which recommend expanding to at least 7 days before election day. Preliminary data also suggests that preprocessing helps avoid any blue or red shifts when there are differences in the partisan lean of mail vs. in person ballots, which could increase voter confidence in the results of elections.

Recent Legislation

As of June 16, 2021

In 2020, Missouri temporarily created a new type of ballot called “mail” ballots that, unlike absentee, didn’t require an excuse to use. For 2020, the state had two types of mailed-to-voter ballots: mail and absentee. Missouri removed pre-existing drop boxes that had been used for years due to a technicality that the law for mail ballots (unlike absentee ballots) only allowed them to be returned by mail. To add to the confusion, people eligible for absentee ballots due to being at high risk for COVID could submit applications online and did not require a notarized signature, while those voting mail ballots did. Due to these barriers, more than 10x more Missourians applied to vote absentee rather than for a mail ballot. Despite the fact that absentee ballots required meeting a narrow set of excuses, the demand was clear: the number of absentee ballots cast nearly tripled from 2016. Unfortunately, no election-related bills passed in 2021.