ST. LOUIS — The deadline to request a ballot by mail in Missouri was Oct. 21 — it’s Oct. 29 in Illinois, but either way, time is running out. If you wait until the last minute —or just don’t have your ballot yet — you might want to make a plan for getting your vote counted.
If you requested an absentee or mail-in ballot more than a week ago and haven't gotten it yet, call your election authority. They should be able to confirm to you that your ballot was put in the mail. Ballots began going out by mail in Missouri on Sept. 22 and in Illinois on Sept. 24.
Even snail mail can veer off course: what if you never receive your ballot, or are getting nervous that you never will, and want to avoid Election Day crowds?
Don't try to request a new ballot by mail: you'll need to go vote in person. Absentee in-person voting is available in Missouri, and early voting in Illinois, until November 2.
Of course, you can also go vote on Election Day.
When you show up, the poll book will show that you requested to vote by mail. After explaining your situation and signing an affidavit, election judges will give you a new ballot to fill out.
If you have issues going in to the polling place, an election judge can bring out voting materials so you can vote "curbside."
What if you got your ballot and still have it in hand? Send it back as soon as possible.
The U.S. Postmaster General recommends Missouri voters mail ballots back no later than Tuesday, Oct. 27 to ensure they arrive by Election Day — any later, and they won't count by state law.
In Illinois, your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day to count.
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If you're worried about putting your ballot in the mail or you're cutting it close on those deadlines, remember: you can return absentee ballots in person in Missouri and Illinois at your local election authority or satellite location, through the day before the election.
What about sending the ballot with someone? In Illinois, you can authorize someone to return it: there is an authorization on the ballot envelope naming and authorizing another person to return the ballot. In Missouri, a "relative within the 2nd degree by consanguinity or affinity” family member can also deliver your ballot to the election board for you. That includes:
Mail-in ballots, the "no excuse required" ones, must be returned by mail — but if time's running out, it's probably best to bring your ballot with you to an election authority or polling place and surrender it in exchange for a new ballot to vote in person.