Letter to the Editor: Boone and Greene County Clerks encourage Missouri college students to vote

Democrat Brianna Lennon and Republican Shane Schoeller jointly drafted this bipartisan op-ed to inform students on how to get involved in the voting process.
Boone and Greene County Clerks Brianna Lennon and Shane Schoeller. Courtesy of Boone and Greene County Clerks.

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In any other presidential election year, county clerks would be inundated with the fruits of voter registration drives across college campuses, but this year — as COVID-19 throws a wrench into the best-laid plans of 2020 — students are finding new ways to encourage others to get involved in the upcoming election. Students are registering to vote online, using social media to educate their peers and navigate the voting options available to them in Missouri. As local election authorities, we both remember our first votes cast in a presidential election and know how important it is that every voter has the tools they need to make their voice heard.

Registering to vote

With midterms fast approaching and Zoom meetings filling up the calendar, now is the time to check voter registration or register to vote for the first time. The deadline for registration is Oct. 7 in Missouri, so don’t procrastinate.

Students who plan to register at a campus address should visit GoVoteMissouri.com to complete voter registration online or check out vote.gov if they’re registered in their home state. If registered at a campus address, the new registration will cancel any previous registration in another county and give more options to cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 election.

The absentee voting period begins Sept. 22.

Voting Options

It’s important to exercise your right to vote. Those who plan to vote in Missouri have three options available for casting a ballot.

First, one can request an absentee or mail-in ballot and vote by mail. Absentee voting is available to eligible voters who will be out of town on Election Day, are incapacitated or confined due to illness, have contracted COVID-19 or are at risk for contracting or transmitting it. Mail-in ballots are available to any voter who wishes to vote by mail in 2020. There are different instructions to follow for absentee and mail-in ballots, but the simplest way to apply for either is to download an application from the Secretary of State’s website at: sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri/2020FillableBallotApplication-GeneralElection.pd and send a completed form to your local county clerk.

Those voting by mail-in or an absentee ballot will also need to get their ballot notarized for it to count. This can be done at the county clerk’s office, local library or any of the available notaries on this list (embedded link):https://sos.mo.gov/elections/MailinNotary Once complete, mail-in ballots must be returned to the clerk’s office by mail, but voters or their close relatives can mail or drop off absentee ballots at the office.

A second option is to vote absentee in person at the county clerk’s office. From Sept. 22 through Nov. 2, county clerk offices are open for voters to apply in person, receive their absentee ballot and cast it the same day. This option will work for those who are concerned about finding a notary, relying on the post office or who just prefer an in-person voting experience.

Finally, in-person polling places are always open on Nov. 3. The Secretary of State’s website lists polling places here (embedded link).

Getting Involved

We’re expecting college students — and all voters — to show up in force for the November election. We want every eligible voter to have the opportunity to cast a ballot, and that means that we need to prepare for record-breaking turnout. County clerks across Missouri are recruiting election judges to staff the polls on Election Day, and, as a registered voter, you can help. Election judges run our polling places, assist voters and ensure the integrity of the election itself. They are paid positions and let citizens participate in one of the fundamental components of a democratic republic: elections administration.

However you choose to participate, we want you to know that local election authorities are here to answer any and all questions. In an era of seemingly unparalleled disagreement between Democrats and Republicans, as election authorities from both parties, we have and will continue to work together to protect your right to vote. We encourage voters to reach out to their local county clerk or elections board to learn what’s on the ballot, sign up to be a poll worker and explore their options for exercising your right to vote this fall. #Vote2020!

Edited by Sofi Zeman | szeman@themaneater.com

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