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Mail-in or absentee? Here's how to choose which ballot-by-mail is right for you

In most states, they're the same. Not in Missouri

ST. LOUIS — There are no wrong answers when you’re filling out your ballot, but when you’re choosing which ballot to request if you want to vote by mail -- mail-in or absentee -- you need to pick the right one for you. 

In most states, including Illinois, mail-in and absentee ballots are the same, but Missouri is more complicated.

A mail-in ballot is new this year, approved as a voting option because of the coronavirus.  Any registered voter can request one. You’ll get your ballot in the mail. It needs to be notarized, then these ballots must be mailed back.

An absentee ballot can also be returned by mail. If you don’t want to put your vote in a mailbox though, absentee ballots can be returned in person, at an election authority, before Election Day.

To vote absentee in Missouri, you need to have one of these reasons for not being able to vote in person:

  1. Absence on Election Day from the jurisdiction of the election authority in which such voter is registered to vote
  2. Incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, including a person who is primarily responsible for the physical care of a person who is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability (No ballot notary is required.)
  3. Religious belief or practice
  4. Employment as an election authority, as a member of an election authority, or by an election authority at a location other than such voter's polling place
  5. Incarceration, provided all qualifications for voting are retaine
  6. Certified participation in the address confidentiality program established under sections 589.660 to 589.681 because of safety concerns
  7. For an election that occurs during the year 2020, the voter has contracted or is in an at-risk category for contracting or transmitting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, “COVID-19.” (No ballot notary is required.)

Request your chosen ballot as soon as possible, but it must be done before Oct. 21 online, or in person at your election authority. The ballots will begin to arrive after Sept. 22.  

Any ballots returning by mail should be on their way no later than Oct. 27 to make sure they arrive by Election Day.

Know to Vote 

RELATED: What does it mean to get your ballot notarized?

RELATED: Voting dates and deadlines to know

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