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General Municipal Election absentee ballots available in Johnson County

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JOHNSON COUNTY — Absentee ballots are now available for registered voters who will be absent from their polling location for the General Municipal Election on April 6.

Absentee voting for the April 6 election will continue through 5 p.m. April 5 at the Johnson County Courthouse, Voter Registration Office. The office will also be open for absentee voting from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 3.

Application by mail for absentee ballots must be received in the Voter Registration Office by 5 p.m. March 24. It should include the voter’s name and residential address as it appears on the voter registration rolls, mailing address, reason for requesting an absentee ballot and signature of the voter.

Voter Registration is located on the second floor of the Johnson County Courthouse at 300 N. Holden St., Warrensburg.  

Johnson County Clerk Diane Thompson said curbside voting will also be available at the courthouse during absentee voting and at the polls on Election Day.

Absentee voting is available to registered voters who have one or more of six excuses: 

  • The voter will be absent from their voting jurisdiction on Election Day.
  • The voter is incapacitated or confined due to illness or physical disability or primarily responsible for caring for an incapacitated or confined person due to illness or disability.
  • The voter is restricted by religious belief or practice.
  • The voter is employed as or by an Election Day authority at a location other than their polling place.
  • The voter is incarcerated but has retained all voting qualifications.
  • The voter is a program participant in the Department of State's Address Confidentiality Program.

Last year, Gov. Mike Parson passed a law that allowed for mail-in voting during the August and November elections and added a seventh excuse to the absentee ballot to account for the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this law expired Dec. 31, 2020.

The Missouri legislature has not passed any legislation to allow mail-in voting for the April 6 election. Thompson said she does not expect any legislation of the sort to be passed in the coming weeks.

“We will be going back to the way statutes were written prior to that law,” Thompson said.

Thompson said for the upcoming election, there will be no mail-in ballots and absentee voting has returned to utilizing the original six excuses.

Thompson said absentee voters can have the ballot sent to them by mail and then get the ballot envelope notarized (some of the excuses do not require this step).

During last year’s November election, Thompson said more than 6,000 absentee ballots were cast, including both in-office and mail-in absentee ballots. Almost 3,300 voters received their ballots by mail and of those 3,300, only 37 people utilized the mail-in ballot while the rest were cast as absentee ballots.

Thompson said the number of absentee ballots cast in Johnson County during the 2020 election was nearly double the amount cast in the 2012 and 2016 November elections, which saw between 3,200 and 3,500 absentee ballots cast.

Thompson said with the number of absentee ballots cast last year, the county used a Missouri law it had not previously needed.

The state of Missouri allows jurisdictions to begin processing absentee ballots up to five days before the election.

“We’ve never had to do that in the past, we’ve always started processing our ballots on Election Day,” Thompson said. “But when we saw the volume we were getting in through the mail, we realized we probably needed to start sooner so that we could have results timely on election night.”

On the Friday before the November 2020 election, Thompson said a four-person bipartisan team went to the Johnson County Courthouse to process the absentee ballots that had been mailed in by then.

Thompson said the team members confirmed that each box contained the correct amount of ballot envelopes, confirmed each envelope requiring a notarization had been notarized, confirmed it was signed by the voter and confirmed the ballots would be counted on election night.

Thompson said the team then opened the envelopes, separated the ballots and envelopes and locked them into sealed boxes so they would not be run through any calculators until election night.

Thompson said this assisted the election counting process as this portion of work is the most time-consuming part. She said the remaining mail-in ballots that were received after that point were processed on election night.

For more information on this year’s election, visit jococourthouse.com. 

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