Local election workers ready for big increase in absentee, mail-in ballots

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Elections workers on both sides of the state line are bracing for an unusual season.

With an August primary just a month away, and November’s general election on the horizon, fears over the spread of the coronavirus could translate into a massive increase in absentee and mail-in ballots.

“Generally, in a primary election, we get about 2,100 different absentee ballots come in,” said Shawn Kieffer at the Kansas City Election Board. “So far, we’ve had over 700 sent in just the first week that it’s been open, so we’re anticipating that this could be two or three times the normal average.”

Early, absentee and mail-in voting are handled differently by Missouri and Kansas. In Kansas, advance voting is allowed at polling locations without any excuse needed.

In Missouri, there are a couple of alternatives to casting a ballot in person. If you apply for a mail-in ballot on the Kansas City Election Board website, you will need to have your ballot notarized when you mail it back.

If you opt to vote absentee in Missouri, there’s a new box to check, among the reasons you cannot make it to the polls, that relates to COVID-19.

“If you have COVID, if you have chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, etc., you can check box number seven, that they’ve added to the standard form, absentee form, and they can vote that way,” Kieffer said.

With an expected increase in absentee and mail-in ballots this year, Kieffer is confident his office is up to the challenge.

“We take great pride in making sure we do it and do it right down here,” Kieffer said. “So whoever sends a ballot in, we will do our best to get it right back out to them and will definitely get them counted on election night.”

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