Four states area absentee and mail-in voting information

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FILE – In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, vote-by-mail ballots are shown in sorting trays at the King County Elections headquarters in Renton, Wash., south of Seattle. In every U.S. presidential election, thousands of ballots are rejected and never counted. They may have arrived after Election Day or were missing a voter’s signature. That number will be far higher this year as the coronavirus pandemic forces tens of millions of Americans to vote by mail for the first time. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Some voters may vote in the upcoming election via mail-in or absentee ballot, or advance voting. It is important to know the information pertaining to these ways of voting so that every vote may count, as information may vary from state to state. 

In Missouri, mail-in ballots are accepted due to COVID-19 so as to not spread the virus, according to the Missouri secretary of state webpage. Residents must request a mail-in ballot, and requests must be received the second Wednesday prior to Election Day. Mail-in ballots must be returned by mail in the provided envelope, with the statement on the envelope witnessed and signed by a notary. These mail-in ballots must be received by election authority by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. 

Missouri also allows absentee voting for specific individuals, such as those who are prevented from going to a polling place on Election Day. Those voting via absentee voting may vote up to six weeks prior to the election. There are various reason one may be allowed to vote via absentee voting, including: absence due to jurisdiction of the election authority in which such voter is registered to vote; incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, or is that person’s caregiver; religious belief or practice; 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; incarceration, as long as the individual still holds all voting qualifications; certified participation in the address confidentiality program established under sections 589.660 to 589.681 because of safety concerns; for an election in 2020, the person has contracted or is at-risk for contracting COVID-19. 

In Kansas, advance voting is allowed up to 20 days before an election, according to the Kansas secretary of state webpage. Mail-in voting is also allowed; deadline to submit an advance ballot application is October 27. For mail-in voting, ballots will be mailed out starting October 14. When voting by mail, all ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the county election office by the close of business the Friday following Election Day. In-person advance voting must be offered no later than October 27 but may start earlier—possibly October 14. Kansas’s deadline for in-person advance voting is November 2. 

For Oklahoma, residents who wish to apply for an absentee ballot may apply in-person, online with the OK Voter Portal, or write a letter to the county election board, according to the Oklahoma state election board webpage. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot to be mailed to an individual is 5 p.m. the Tuesday prior to Election Day. In order to be counted, the ballot must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day. For 2020, the USPS recommends that residents mail their ballots at least a week prior to the election. An individual must deliver their own ballot, as it is unlawful to deliver someone else’s. For those who wish to partake in in-person advance voting, this is offered 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday before all elections, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday before federal/state elections. 

Arkansas residents can request an absentee ballot by contacting their county clerk or by downloading it online and returning it to the county clerk, according to the Arkansas secretary of state webpage. In order to qualify for an absentee ballot, Arkansas residents must meet one of the following qualifications: the individual will unavoidably be absent from their polling place on Election Day; will be unable to attend their polling place due to illness or physical disability; the individual is a member of the Uniformed Services, merchant marines, or the spouse or a dependent family member and is away from their polling location due to the member’s active duty status; a U.S. citizen whose residence is in Arkansas but is temporarily living outside the territorial limits of the United States. The deadline to register for in-person absentee ballot is by close of business the day before Election day; and the deadline to register for mail or electronic absentee ballot is seven days prior to Election Day. Deadline to return an in-person absentee ballot is by close of business the day prior to Election Day; and deadline for a mail-in absentee ballot to be accepted is to be received by the county clerk by 7 p.m. Election Day. 

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