With only 30 minutes left in the Missouri Legislature’s session, action was taken to provide a safe and secure way to vote for people in at-risk categories for contracting or transmitting COVID-19.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 631 into law on June 4 that includes provisions for voters in at-risk categories for contracting or transmitting COVID-19 the option to vote by absentee ballot without obtaining legal notarization.
The law expires Dec. 31 and covers both the primary election on Aug. 4 and the Nov. 3 general election.
According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Election Division, voters considered at-risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 are those who:
• Are 65 years of age or older;
• Live in a long-term care facility licensed under Chapter 198 RSMo.;
• Have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma;
• Have serious heart conditions;
• Are immunocompromised;
• Have diabetes;
• Have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis; or
• Have liver disease.
Webster County Clerk Stan Whitehurst told me that voters must mail in or fax absentee ballot requests to his office no later than 5 p.m. on the second Wednesday prior to any election. Voters also can vote by absentee in his office until 5 p.m. the night before the election.
The fax number at the county clerk’s offi ce is 417-468-5307. Questions about voting should be directed to Whitehurst’s office by calling 417-859-8683 (VOTE).
To help prevent fraud or ballot harvesting, voters requesting an absentee ballot by mail who have registered by mail and have not voted in person are required to submit a copy of their personal identification unless they provided a copy with their registration application.
Examples of acceptable identification are:
• Identification issued by the state of Missouri, an agency of the state or a local election authority of the state;
• Identification issued by the United States government or agency;
• Identification issued by an institution of higher education;
• A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter; or
• Other identification approved by the Secretary of State under rules promulgated pursuant to Missouri law.
The identification requirement, as well as the notary requirement, for absentee ballots does not apply to overseas voters, those on active military duty or members of their immediate family living with them or voters who are permanently disabled and their caregivers.
Stan has been the county’s election authority since Jan. 1, 1999, and has overseen too many elections for me to keep track of.
He told me that with the checks and balances in place under the provisions of SB 631, he’s not too concerned with fraud, citing that most voters here are inherently honest.
Stan also provided me with what’s perhaps the best analogy for Webster County I’ve ever heard, calling it “An island of ‘Mayberry’ in a sea of crazy.”
I remember the long-past days of voter fraud in Webster County when a pint of whiskey to one of the local “winos” bought a vote.
Fortunately, those days are long gone. However, to avoid election fraud, President Donald Trump signed an executive order three years ago establishing an advisory commission on election integrity to oversee election management, detect election fraud and ensure voter-integrity efforts to include fraudulent voter registration and fraudulent voting.
Hopefully, this executive order will help keep all those dead Democrats who voted John F. Kennedy into office in 1960 from voting this year.
Fred Spriggs is the former news editor of the Webster County Citizen, a position he held for nearly 15 years. He now lives in rural Stone County in retirement with his wife, Julie, who also is a native of Seymour.