ST. LOUIS — Keeping track of candidates and issues can be a lot. But with more voters than ever expected to cast their votes by mail in the 2020 general election, that leaves a lot of ballots in the mail to track, too, for those who want to be sure their vote will be counted.
Neither Missouri nor Illinois has a statewide ballot tracking system. Some jurisdictions have invested in ballot tracking software, including St. Charles County, St. Louis and St. Louis County.
The programs will vary in how you use them: instructions will come with your mail ballot.
You can use the trackers to log into a website and see if your ballot has been received. In St. Charles County, with the newly-implemented system, you will even be able to sign up for text notifications when your ballot is safely back at an election authority office.
St. Louis has a new system for the 2020 general election. The website will help with the high volume of ballots and the high number of requests to track them.
“I think to put that in the voter's own hands is important just so that gives them some peace of mind,” said Ben Borgmeyer, St. Louis’ Democratic Director of Elections. “I think it makes sense in a lot of reasons to give the voters some kind of agency to track their own ballot. And also, as far as what we're doing down here, if voters can check for themselves, they're not calling us … We’re very busy.”
Most jurisdictions do not have do-it-yourself tracking, but they can still help you keep tabs on your ballot. Election authorities said voters should call them about a week after they return a ballot; they'll be able to look a voter's name up to verify whether it was received.
Here are the numbers they provided:
- Calhoun County, Missouri: 618-576-9700 x2
- East St. Louis, Illinois: 618-482-6672
- Franklin County, Missouri: 636-583-6364
- Jefferson County, Missouri: 636-797-5486
- Lincoln County, Missouri: 636-528-6300
- Madison County, Illinois: 618-692-6290
- St. Clair County, Illinois: 618-825-2708
- Washington County, Missouri: 573-438-7704
Whether it’s something you can do yourself or it’s the election authority looking for you, these tracker systems are meant to tell who has voted, but not how they voted. That’s because election workers are logging the envelope, not the actual ballot.
“The envelope is sealed,” said Borgmeyer. “So when you send it to us there's the information that's on the outside of the ballot, has none of that [voting selection] information on it. It's basically just information about the voter.”
What about the status of a ballot you're waiting for in the mail? Ballots started going out on Sept. 22 in Missouri, and Sept. 24 in Illinois. If you're still waiting for your ballot more than a week after you request it, call your election authority for guidance.
Concerns over possible delays due to changes within the United States Postal Service have election authorities, Republican and Democrat, urging voters to have faith in the system and also to act early.
“We are 100% committed throughout the postal service to fulfilling our vital role in the nation’s electoral process by securely and timely delivering all ballots pursuant to our long-established processes and procedures,” spokesperson David A. Partenheimer said in an email, emphasizing that election mail is the Postal Service’s “number one priority.”