The Ultimate Guide to Voting in St. Louis

by

comment
voting1.jpg

The big election will be upon us soon, but many people in St. Louis are still unsure about how they are going to actually vote. Information on the different types of voting options has been spotty and unorganized, so we’ve put it all together here for you.

We’ve created a guide organized around the three ways to vote: in person, absentee and the newly created category of mail-in voting. At the end of each of those sections, you’ll find answers to common questions related to that particular method. Want to know which style of voting fits you best or the last day your mail-in ballot can be received? You’ll find the answers in this guide.



The “absentee” option is particularly confusing this year, but we’ve done our best to make it easy for you to understand the different options and answer any questions you might have about each style of voting.

We spoke to election officials in both the city and the county to gather this information, and in addition to being some of the most helpful and patient people you could ever encounter, they all stressed that it is so important to get your vote counted as soon as possible this year. Delays in the mailing system are expected, so they recommend that if you’re mailing in your ballot, you get it filled out and sent in right away.



And if you’re not registered to vote yet, it’s not too late! You can register and be a part of history.

To register in just a few easy steps, visit the Missouri secretary of state website: sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/register.

Let’s get started.

Show up in person to your local polling place or a satellite voting location on Tuesday, November 3. - PAUL SABLEMAN / FLICKR
  • Paul Sableman / Flickr
  • Show up in person to your local polling place or a satellite voting location on Tuesday, November 3.

1. VOTE IN PERSON THE DAY OF THE ELECTION

This classic style of voting means that you show up in person to your local polling place or a satellite voting location on Tuesday, November 3. To save time and possibly some arguing with on-site election officials, don’t forget to bring your voter postcard that includes your precinct number, your voter ID and your personal cheat sheet to remind yourself how you’re voting on each issue on the ballot. (Researching all of those judges. Ugh.) You’ll also need to bring your face mask or covering because you’ll be in a public place and also because you’re not a jerk. It couldn’t hurt to bring along some hand sanitizer, too, so you can blitz any potential cooties on your hands after touching pencils, booths or voting machines.

Questions and answers for in-person voting:

Where is my polling place?
Missouri’s Voter Outreach Center on the secretary of state’s website can tell you not only where to find your polling place, but also what candidates and issues will be on the ballot. To find your polling place, visit voteroutreach.sos.mo.gov/PRD/VoterOutreach/VOSearch.aspx.

On Election Day, you may also choose to vote at one of the satellite voting locations or the Board of Election Commissioners. (Read on for more information about satellite voting locations and hours.)

What are the voting hours on Election Day?
Polling places are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day, November 3. If you are in line to vote at 7 p.m., you have the right to cast your vote. If you are still in line at 7 p.m. and someone tries to send you home and deny you your right to vote, do not take no for an answer. Ask for a supervisor and an on-site voting advocate.

Where do I sign up to volunteer to work at the polls on Election Day?

May I vote curbside on Election Day?
Yes, people with limited mobility can vote from their cars on Election Day. Ask any poll worker you come across outside, and they should be able to assist you or find you assistance. For more information about accessible voting see sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/howtovote#accessible.


And if the thought of visiting the busy polls during a pandemic on Election Day freaks you out, you may vote absentee either in person or via prior to Election Day. - STEVEN DUONG
  • Steven Duong
  • And if the thought of visiting the busy polls during a pandemic on Election Day freaks you out, you may vote absentee either in person or via prior to Election Day.

2. VOTE ABSENTEE, EITHER BY MAIL FROM HOME OR BY VOTING EARLY IN PERSON

You may choose to vote absentee in Missouri for many reasons, such as being out of town on Election Day or because of your religious beliefs. If you want to mail in an absentee ballot because you have a physical disability or would be at high risk if you contracted COVID-19 by showing up at the polls on Election Day, you do not need to have your ballot notarized before you mail it in.

If you request to vote absentee for any other reason, however, your ballot must be notarized, so be aware of which category you fall under.

And if the thought of visiting the busy polls during a pandemic on Election Day freaks you out, you may also vote absentee in person prior to Election Day in your local election board’s office. It’s exactly like voting on Election Day, just on an earlier date and in a different (and much less busy) place. You can vote in their offices any weekday until the election, and you don’t even need to register to vote absentee in advance or make an appointment. You just walk right in. Show up at the office during business hours, drop in with all of the stuff you’d bring with you to the polls normally, and cast your vote like usual. You could just pop in sometime soon and get it done and then not have to worry about it again.

Questions and answers for absentee voting:

How do I sign up to vote absentee?

Where do I find a notary?
See the Q&A portion of the mail-in-voting section of this guide.

How do I know if I’m considered to be high risk for contracting COVID-19 and therefore qualify to vote absentee?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of at-risk categories is broad and includes large groups of at-risk Americans: everyone age 65 and older, everyone who is immunocompromised and everyone with asthma, diabetes or another qualifying health condition.

If one of these applies to you, you may request to vote absentee and you do not have to get your ballot notarized. Once your absentee-at-home ballot is filled out, you can return it to your county clerk or board of elections either through the mail or in person.

Do I have to provide proof that I am at high risk to contract COVID-19 so they’ll let me vote absentee?
Absolutely not. They take your word for it if you tell them that you’re high risk or physically disabled. And since high-risk people and physically disabled people often can’t be out trying to track down a notary, those who go this route don’t need to get their ballot notarized, either.

What do I have to do to sign up to vote absentee in person?
You do not need to make an appointment to vote or notify either the city or the county elections board in advance of your arrival at their office. When voting absentee in person, you just show up and vote exactly like you would on Election Day, just in a different location and prior to Election Day.

Where can I vote absentee in person prior to Election Day in the city?
Head to the St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners at 300 North Tucker Boulevard (314-622-4336, stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners) any time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Also, starting on October 12, residents of St. Louis city will have the option of voting absentee in person at one of four satellite sites in addition to the Board of Election Commissioners office itself, which is already open for voting.

Where to vote absentee, city:
  • Buder Library (4401 Hampton Avenue)
  • Central Library (1301 Olive Street)
  • Julia Davis Library (4415 Natural Bridge Avenue)
  • Schlafly Library (225 North Euclid Avenue)
The details:
  • These sites will be open October 12 through November 2.
  • Hours are 11a.m to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, and from 1 p.m to 7 p.m Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Voters will only be able to vote on the touch screen machines at these locations.
  • A voter who wishes to vote by paper will have to cast their absentee ballot at the Board of Election Commissioners’ office (300 North Tucker Boulevard). Hours there are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through November 3.
  • The elections board office will also be open for absentee voting on the two Saturdays leading up to the election, October 24 and 31, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where can I vote absentee in person prior to Election Day in the county?
Head to the St. Louis County Board of Elections at 725 Northwest Plaza Drive in St. Ann (314-615-1851, stlouiscountymo.gov) any time between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Starting on October 22, residents of St. Louis County also have the option of voting absentee in person at one of four satellite sites in addition to the Board of Elections office in St. Ann, which is already open for voting. You can turn in your absentee ballot at these spots, too, and they’ll also notarize it on the spot for free, so this is a great option for someone who still wants the security of voting in person without having to go to the polls on Election Day.

Where to vote absentee, county:
  • St. Louis County Library, Mid-County Branch (7821 Maryland Avenue)
  • North County Recreation Complex (2577 Redman Road)
  • South County Government Center, Keller Plaza (4544 Lemay Ferry Road)
  • West County Government Center (82 Clarkson Wilson Centre)
The details:
  • These sites will be open 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from October 22 through November 1. Additional hours will include 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 24, and Saturday, October 31, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday November 2.
  • You are welcome to bring your completed absentee ballot to one of these locations to have it notarized (if needed) and submit it.
  • If you want to apply for your absentee ballot in advance of visiting a voting site, you may do so via mail or fax, in person or by written request. Call 314-615-1833 or send an email to boecabsentee@stlouisco.com.

What accommodations will be made for me to vote absentee in person without having to enter the election board’s office?
In St. Louis city, you may walk or drive up to the outside of the Board of Election Commissioners office, and they will bring your paper ballot out to you. This is a great option for people with disabilities, and it’s also a handy service if you need to vote but think you might’ve been exposed to COVID-19 recently or you have any kind of symptoms. Voting from your car keeps you out of the office, which keeps everyone involved safer from the virus.

In St. Louis County, you may also vote from your car, but not until a week before Election Day. For more specifics, call the county elections board closer to Election Day at 314-615-1851.

You do not need to make an appointment to vote or notify either the city or the county elections board office in advance of your arrival. Just call their main number when you arrive and they will send somebody out to you.

What do I do with my absentee ballot if I’ve already received it at my house but I’m distrustful of mailing it in or I’m afraid the election authority won’t receive it in time?
If you have your absentee ballot in hand, you can drop off your filled-out ballot at your local board of elections. A relative may also drop off your absentee ballot for you, but they will have to show ID, and they have to be closely related to you, such as a spouse, son or daughter. For more information on if your relative is qualified to drop your ballot for you, call the local elections board. (Contact information is listed at the end of this guide.)

When is the very latest that my ballot can be received and still be counted?
Your mailed-in or personally delivered ballot must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day. It’s not enough for it to be postmarked by Election Day (like with taxes); ballots must be received by November 3. October 27 is technically the last day to mail absentee ballots to ensure they are received in time, but election officials stress that you should mail it in as soon as you possibly can to account for expected delays and bumps in the system.


The mail-in option — new this year and different than voting absentee — is open to all Missourians. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Danny Wicentowski
  • The mail-in option — new this year and different than voting absentee — is open to all Missourians.

3. VOTE BY MAIL BEFORE THE ELECTION


The mail-in option — new this year and different than voting absentee — is open to all Missourians, even without medical conditions specified for absentee voting. With this option, you’re just requesting that your ballot be mailed to you and then you will fill it out at home and mail it back. You do not need an excuse to request this style of simple mail-in ballot, but if you go with this option you must actually mail it back via the United States Postal Service. Do not take it to a polling place or try to drop it off somewhere. Drop that thing in the mail, and soon. These ballots also must be notarized, which means you’ll have to find a notary before you mail it back in, too. You may request a mail-in ballot through the Missouri secretary of state website or websites for local elections boards, but you need to return your application to your local elections board, not the secretary of state. Again, election officials stress that you must return these ballots as soon as possible because of the disaster happening with the U.S. Postal Service.

Questions and answers about mail-in voting:

How do I sign up to vote by mail?
To request a Missouri Mail-In Ballot, fill out the form and follow the instructions here: stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/documents/request-mo-mail-in-ballot.cfm.

What do I do with my mail-in ballot once I’ve received it and filled it out?
As mentioned above, if it’s not an absentee ballot you must use the United States Postal Service to mail it back. Don’t try to go around the postal service and send it any other way. It must be returned via USPS, so make sure to send it back immediately.

When is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Missouri?
The deadline to request a ballot by mail is 5 p.m. October 21. It is wise, however, to request a mail-in ballot immediately and send it back as soon as possible. To request your ballot now, visit stlouis-mo.gov.

Where do I find a notary?
Voting activists are currently challenging several election rules that govern how we vote by mail, which could change some of the requirements for notarizing ballots, but if you do end up needing a notary, the Secretary of State’s office is compiling a list of “notaries who have volunteered to assist Missouri voters in getting their mail-in or absentee ballot envelopes notarized at no charge.” To see that list, visit sos.mo.gov/elections/MailinNotary. In St. Louis County, you may also get your absentee ballot notarized at certain satellite absentee voting sites starting on October 22.

They have all of the answers at the Board of Election Commissioners office downtown. - JAIME LEES
  • Jaime Lees
  • They have all of the answers at the Board of Election Commissioners office downtown.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS:


What do I do if I’m not sure which method of voting fits me or if I have questions about the process?
Your best bet is to call the office of your local elections board. They are the voting experts, and they are accustomed to answering all kinds of voting questions, big and small.

Who do I contact if I still have more questions?
You can visit the Missouri secretary of state website at sos.mo.gov for details on many voting questions, but if you’d like personalized service it's best to contact your local elections board.

In St. Louis city, that’s the Board of Election Commissioners (300 North Tucker Boulevard, 314-622-4336, stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners). Office hours are 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In St. Louis County, that’s the Board of Elections (725 Northwest Plaza Drive, St. Ann, 314-615-1851, stlouisco.com/yourgovernment/elections, facebook.com/StLouisCoVotes). Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Email the author at jaime.lees@riverfronttimes.com
  • Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.