2020 election: KCQ answers questions to help ensure your vote counts in Kansas, Missouri

Last modified: 
Monday, October 12, 2020
What's your KC Q?

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by KCQ Staff | kcq@kcstar.com

It’s been said many times, but this is an election like no other. Voters not only have questions about who they will support at the polls, but they also want to know about mail-in ballots, notaries, early voting and Election Day plans during the coronavirus pandemic.

“What’s Your KCQ?” — a partnership between The Star and the Kansas City Public Library — is here to answer your questions about decision day on Nov. 3.

Tia Mirocke (left) of Mission, Kansas was getting checked into vote by Maeve Martin, (right)
an assistant supervising judge at the polling place at 6000 Lamar Ave., in Mission.
Nearly 1,800 voters were registered to vote at this polling place. Tammy Ljungblad | The Star

Missouri mail-in ballots

For Missouri voters, you can find an application online from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. Unlike absentee ballots, however, you can only request a mail ballot in person or by mail. And, also unlike absentee ballots, all mail ballots must be notarized. You may be charged a fee.

The request deadline is 5 p.m. Oct. 21. First-time voters who registered by mail will have to provide photo ID or other documentation.

The deadline to return the ballot is 7 p.m. on Election Day. Voting rights advocates recommend you complete the ballot and send it back as soon as possible. Remember, it must be returned by U.S. mail only.

Kansas mail-in ballots

Kansas voters can visit the Kansas Secretary of State’s website, print out an application and mail it to your local election authority.

Applications must be filled out with a voter’s driver’s license number or a copy of your photo ID. If you don’t have a driver’s license, a full list of acceptable IDs can be found on the application.

The deadline is Oct. 27, and voters can also track the status of their mail-in ballots here.

Ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day. You can either return it by mail or drop it at a local election office in person. Ballots that are mailed will be counted up to three days after the election, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

Getting Missouri ballots notarized

Missouri mail-in voters have an extra hurdle to clear: The ballot needs to be notarized.

That has caused some pushback. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued before the Missouri Supreme Court that the state’s mail-in voting system places an undue burden on voters trying to cast ballots during the ongoing pandemic.

On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld the notarization requirement on mail-in ballots, finding that there’s no constitutional right in Missouri to vote absentee or mail-in, according to the opinion.

Ballots must be signed, notarized, and received by the Election Board before 7 p.m. on election day. One way to get your ballot notarized is through the Kansas City Public Library. More than a dozen Library staff earned their notary certification to help in this election. Missouri voters can make an appointment or show up to any of the pop up notary events hosted by the Library. Those pop-up notary sessions are being held Monday through Saturday, and there’s a complete list on the Library’s calendar.

Meanwhile, ballot notary booths are popping up across Kansas City. The founder of Curbside Notary said her organization has many events scheduled to help Missouri voters notarize ballots. A list of times and locations is available on the Curbside Notary website.

Early voting and absentee ballots

In Kansas, the early voting period starts Wednesday, Oct. 14, and runs until Monday, Nov. 2. The state also has in-person and mail-in voting. You can vote at any of your county’s early voting locations.

Missouri voting can be mail-in, in-person or absentee.

Missouri absentee voters qualify through the following criteria:

  • You will be out of the county on Election Day
  • You are either incapacitated or confined “due to illness or physical disability” or you are the primary caregiver of someone who is
  • Your religious beliefs prevent you from voting on Election Day
  • You are an election worker
  • You are incarcerated but still eligible to vote
  • You participate in Missouri’s address confidentiality program

This year, any voter who is at risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 is also eligible to vote absentee.

The Star’s Voter Guide

Now that you have your ballot in front of you, it is time to plan your vote.

The presidential choice at the top of the Nov. 3 ballot looms large, but Kansas and Missouri voters will decide on many other consequential races this fall.

Make informed choices by using The Kansas City Star’s 2020 Voter Guide. Enter your full address to display the races and candidates that will appear on your ballot. And the interactive tool will help you select (and keep track of) your picks when it’s time to vote.

The Star’s subscribers can access candidates’ answers to questions about issues important to your community.

We sent questionnaires to every statewide and federal candidate in Missouri and Kansas, as well as dozens of candidates for the state legislature and local offices. All were given ample time to respond to the questionnaire and their answers are displayed in full.

Submit a Question

Do you want to ask a question for a future voting round? Kansas City Star reporters and Kansas City Public Library researchers will investigate the question and explain how we got the answer. Enter it below to get started.