FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The following questions were compiled based on questions received from local election authorities at regional presentations and calls received by the Elections Division. A short answer is provided for each question. For additional information, please refer to the cited section of statute.
- Who gets a provisional ballot?
- At elections where statewide candidates/issues or federal candidates are nominated or elected, some voters may be eligible for a provisional ballot. If a voter’s name cannot be found on the precinct register and their eligibility cannot be determined when the election judges talk to the election authority or if the judges cannot reach the election authority, they may be given a provisional ballot (115.430). For more detailed information see Administrative Rule 15 CSR 30-8.010.
- Does a voter without proper identification qualify for a provisional ballot?
- No. A voter must present one of the forms of identification as provided in 115.427 before receiving any ballot.
- If a voter is at the wrong polling place without sufficient time to go to their assigned polling place, are they eligible to receive a provisional ballot?
- No. 115.430 requires the provisional voter to affirm under oath that the voter is eligible to vote at that polling place. If the election authority is able to determine from its records that the person is not eligible to vote at that polling place, the voter should be directed to the correct polling place.
- If a provisional ballot is inadvertently cast at the wrong polling place but within the proper jurisdiction because the election authority was unable to direct them to the correct polling place, should the ballot be counted once the voter’s eligibility has been established within that jurisdiction?
- Yes, but this may be subject to legal challenge. Every effort should be made to direct the voter to the correct polling place.
- What is on a provisional ballot?
- The provisional ballot is only for primary and general elections and should include candidates for federal and statewide offices and any statewide questions. If the state would call a special election for a statewide question, a provisional ballot would be available at that election (115.430.1)
- Which election days are open to political subdivisions?
- All election dates are open for any political subdivision except March. If a city or county had a charter providing for a March primary before August 28, 1999, they may continue to have that election date (115.123)
- When and where can challengers and watchers be used?
- Challengers and watchers may be used at any election where political party candidates are on the ballot and must meet the same qualifications as election judges (115.105 and 115.107). Challengers and watchers may also be used by committees supporting or opposing statewide ballot measures (116.300) and must meet the same qualifications as election judges. Challengers are used at polling places and at places where absentee ballots are counted. Watchers are used wherever ballots are being counted. They are designated by the chair of the county committee of each political party named on the ballot and must be issued the oath provided in 115.109.
- Within what degree of consanguinity and affinity can an election judge be to someone on the ballot?
- No person may serve as a judge who is within the second degree of consanguinity (blood) or affinity (marriage) from any candidate appearing on the ballot (115.085). This includes spouse, parent, child, grandparent, brother, sister, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law or son-in-law (115.013(25)).
- Who can request absentee ballots?
- Qualified voters may request absentee ballots if any of the following conditions prevent them from going to the polls in person on election day (115.277): 1) absence from the jurisdiction on election day; 2) incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, including primary caregivers for persons who are confined due to illness or physical disability; 3) religious belief or practice; 4) employment as an election authority; and 5) incarceration, provided voting rights are retained. Others who may vote absentee include persons in federal service, even if they aren’t registered (115.277.2), interstate former residents (115.277.3), intrastate new residents (115.277.4) and new residents (presidential primary only, 115.277.5).
The voter can request an absentee ballot in the office of the election authority, by mail or by fax if the election authority has the telecommunications capacity to do so. A relative of the voter within the second degree may request an absentee ballot for a voter, but they must do so in the office of the election authority.
- If a person registers to vote by mail can they vote the first time by absentee ballot?
- Yes. 115.159 provides that the person must provide a copy of identific.ation required in 115.427 unless they are exempt from obtaining a notary seal or signature.
- Who must have their absentee ballot notarized?
- All absentee ballots must be notarized with the exception of the following: Missouri residents outside the U.S. including military on active duty and their immediate family members, permanently disabled voters and those voting absentee due to illness or physical disability (115.283.6 and 115.283.7) and a caregiver as defined in 115.277.1(2).
- Who can return an absentee ballot?
- The voter may return the ballot to the election authority in person, or the ballot may be returned by a relative of the voter who is within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity (115.291.2).
- When is the deadline for write-in candidates?
- Write-in candidates must notify the proper filing officer prior to 5:00 p.m. on the second Friday before election day (115.453(4)).
- Are we supposed to post the list of write-in candidates at the polling place?
- No. The election authority shall furnish a list to the election judges and counting teams prior to election day of all write-in candidates who have filed such declaration (115.453(4)).
- Are write-in votes counted for every name that is written in?
- If a candidate is on the ballot for an office, write-in votes are counted only for the candidates that have filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate with the proper filing officer. If no candidate is on the ballot for an office, it is not required to file a declaration of intent and votes are counted for every name properly written in.
- What if the voter casts a vote for a candidate on the ballot and properly writes in the name of someone for the same office?
- Refer to 115.453.2 which states: “If cross (X) marks appear next to the names of more candidates for an office than are entitled to fill the office, no candidate for the office shall be counted as voted for.” For automatic tabulating equipment also refer to 115.477.3 which sets out the procedure for making a duplicate copy of the defective ballot (115.467.2) which does not include the over voted race and allows for the rest of the ballot to be tabulated. See 115.453.5 and the administrative rule on uniform counting standards for requirements of write-in votes.
- If a mail-in voter registration application is postmarked on the deadline for voter registration are they eligible to vote in the upcoming election?
- Yes, if such application is accepted and not rejected and the verification notice is not returned as undeliverable (115.151.2).
- Can election judges be gone any part of the election day?
- Yes, election judges can be absent from the polls up to one hour during the hours the polls are open, but not before 9:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. No more than one judge from the same political party shall be absent from the polls at the same time during the day (115.097).
- If a voter does not have any form of identification what can they do?
- The new law requires that a specific form of identification be presented prior to receiving a ballot (115.427). If the person does not have identification and the two supervisory election judges have personal knowledge of the voter, then the voter must complete an affidavit that is signed by both supervisory judges.
- Who gets an intrastate new resident ballot? What candidates/issues do they vote?
- “Intrastate new resident”, a registered voter of this state who moves from one election authority’s jurisdiction in the state to another election authority’s jurisdiction in the state after the last day authorized in this chapter to register to vote in an election and otherwise possesses the qualifications to vote;
- Can the election authority deliver a ballot to someone that is hospitalized the day of the election?
- Yes, if any voter from the jurisdiction has become hospitalized in the county in which the jurisdiction is located or in any county or in the jurisdiction of an adjoining election authority within the same county after 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday before an election, if any voter from the jurisdiction has become confined due to illness or injury after 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday before an election or if any voter from the jurisdiction is confined in an adult boarding facility, intermediate care facility, residential care facility, or skilled nursing facility, as defined in section 198.006, RSMo, in the jurisdiction, the election authority shall appoint a team to deliver, witness the signing of and return the voter’s application and deliver, witness the voting of and return the voter’s absentee ballot; except that, the election authority may allow a relative within the first degree of consanguinity or affinity to perform the same duties as a team for such confined voter (115.287.2)
- Who can be in the polling place?
- Access to polling places is limited to election authority personnel, election judges, watchers and challengers, law enforcement officials at the request of the election authority, minor children accompanying an adult in the process of voting, persons designated to administer a youth election, members of the news media present for the purpose of news coverage and registered voters eligible to vote at the polling place (115.409).
- Who must be present at the public test of the tabulating equipment? How far in advance of the election can the test be performed?
- A public test of election equipment shall be held within fourteen days prior to each election where an electronic voting system is used. Notice of this public test shall be mailed to each chairman of established political parties on the ballot, and each independent and new party candidate on the ballot. There must be at least two people present to observe the election authority, one from each major political party. The test shall be open to representatives of the political parties, candidates, news media and public. (115.233)
- When must the verification board meet?
- 115.497. As soon as practicable after each election, the election authority shall convene a verification board to verify the count and certify the results of the election. Be sure to post a notice of public meeting as required under the sunshine law.
- Who shall comprise the verification board?
- 115.499. 1. Where the election authority is a board of election commissioners, the board of election commissioners shall be the verification board.
2. Where the election authority is a county clerk, the county clerk and two verification judges, one from each major political party, shall be the verification board. The county clerk may, as he deems necessary, designate an even number of additional verification judges, one-half from one major political party and one-half from the other major political party. The verification judges shall possess the same qualifications as election judges. Not later than the second Tuesday preceding an election, the county clerk shall request and the county committee of each major political party in the jurisdiction of the election authority shall submit to the election authority a list containing the names of at least six persons qualified to serve on the verification board. Not later than the first Tuesday preceding the election, the election authority shall appoint not less than one person from each of the lists to serve on the verification board. If either county committee fails to present the prescribed number of names of qualified persons by the time prescribed, the election authority shall select and appoint a member or members of the verification board from the party.
- What races must be manually counted after the election?
- 115 CSR 30-10.110
One (1) contested race or ballot issue to be manually recounted shall be randomly selected from each of the following categories, where applicable:
1. Presidential and Vice-Presidential electors, United States senate candidates and state-wide candidates;
2. State-wide ballot issues;
3. United States representative candidates and state general assembly candidates;
4. Partisan circuit and associate circuit judge candidates and all nonpartisan judicial retention candidates; and
5. In addition to the candidates and issues previously listed, the manual recount team shall select not less than three (3) contested races or ballot issues from all political subdivisions and special districts, including the county, in the selected precinct(s). When there are three (3) or fewer contested races or ballot issues within this category at a selected precinct, all shall be counted.
- What happens if there is a tie vote?
- 115.517. 1. If two or more persons receive an equal number of votes for election to the office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer or attorney general, and a higher number of votes than any other candidate for the same office, the secretary of state shall, immediately after the results of the election have been announced, issue a proclamation stating the fact, and the general assembly shall, by joint vote and without delay at its next regular session, choose one of such persons for the office. The speaker of the house shall file a certificate declaring which person has been elected to the office with the secretary of state.
2. If two or more persons receive an equal number of votes for election to federal office, state senator, state representative or circuit judge not subject to the provisions of article V, section 25 of the state constitution, and a higher number of votes than any other candidate for the same office, the governor shall, immediately after the results of the election have been announced, issue a proclamation stating the fact and ordering a special election to determine which candidate is elected to the office. The proclamation shall set the date of the election and shall be sent by the governor to each election authority responsible for conducting the special election. In his proclamation, the governor shall specify the name of each candidate for the office to be voted on at the election, and the special election shall be conducted and the votes counted as in other elections.
3. If two or more persons receive an equal number of votes for nomination or election to any office not otherwise provided for in section 115.515 or this section, and a higher number of votes than any other candidate for nomination or election to the same office, the officer with whom such candidates filed their declarations of candidacy shall, immediately after the results of the election have been certified, issue a proclamation stating the fact and ordering a special election to determine which candidate is elected to the office. The proclamation shall set the date of the election and shall be sent by the officer to each election authority responsible for conducting the special election. In his proclamation, the officer shall specify the name of each candidate for the office to be voted on at the election, and the special election shall be conducted and the votes counted as in other elections.
4. As an alternative to the procedure prescribed in subsections 1, 2, and 3 of this section, if the candidates who received an equal number of votes in such election agree to the procedure prescribed in this subsection, the officer with whom such candidates filed their declarations of candidacy may, after notification of the time and place of such drawing given to each such candidate at least five days before such drawing, determine the winner of such election by lot. Any candidate who received an equal number of votes may decline to have his name put into such drawing.
- What happens if there is less than a 1% difference between the top two vote getters?
- 115.601. 1. Any contestant in a primary or other election contest who was defeated by less than one percent of the votes cast for the office and any contestant who received the second highest number of votes cast for that office if two or more are to be elected and who was defeated by less than one percent of the votes cast, or any person whose position on a question was defeated by less than one percent of the votes cast on the question, shall have the right to a recount of the votes cast for the office or on the question.
2. In cases where the candidate filed or the ballot question was originally filed with an election authority as defined in section 115.015, such recount shall be requested in accordance with the provisions of section 115.531 or 115.577 and conducted under the direction of the court or the commissioner representing the court trying the contest according to the provisions of this subchapter.
3. In cases where the candidate filed or the ballot question was originally filed with the secretary of state, the defeated candidate or the person whose position on a question was defeated by less than one percent of the votes cast on the question shall be allowed a recount pursuant to this section by filing with the secretary of state a request for a recount stating that the person or the person’s position on a question was defeated by less than one percent of the votes cast. Such request shall be filed not later than seven days after certification of the election. The secretary of state shall notify all concerned parties of the filing of the request for a recount. The secretary of state shall authorize the election authorities to conduct a recount pursuant to this section if the requesting party or his position on a question was defeated by less than one percent of the votes cast. The secretary of state shall conduct and certify the results of the recount as the official results in the election within twenty days of receipt of the aforementioned notice of recount.
4. Whenever a recount is requested pursuant to subsection 3 of this section, the secretary of state shall determine the number of persons necessary to assist with the recount and shall appoint such persons equally from lists submitted by the contestant and the opponent who received more votes or a person whose position on a question received more votes than the contestant’s position on that question. Each person appointed pursuant to this section shall be a disinterested person and a registered voter of the area in which the contested election was held. Each person so appointed shall take the oath prescribed for and receive the same pay as an election judge in the jurisdiction where the person is registered. After being sworn not to disclose any facts uncovered by the recount, except those which are contained in the report, the contestant and the opponent who received more votes or a person whose position on a question received more votes than the contestant’s position on that question shall be permitted to be present in person or represented by an attorney at the recount and to observe the recount. Each recount shall be completed under the supervision of the secretary of state with the assistance of the election authorities involved, and the persons appointed to assist with the recount shall perform such duties as the secretary of state directs. Upon completion of any duties prescribed by the secretary of state the persons appointed to assist with the recount shall make a written and signed report of their findings. The findings of the persons appointed to assist with the recount shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein, but any person present at the examination of the votes may be a witness to contradict the findings. No one other than the secretary of state, the election authorities involved, the contestant and the other witnesses described in this subsection, their attorneys, and those specifically appointed by the secretary of state to assist with the recount shall be present during any recount conducted pursuant to this section.