The political ads already are rampant on TV, with charges and countercharges being made by any number of candidates and their campaign committees. But there still will be voters who have little idea who will be on the ballot locally on Nov. 4. The Jefferson County Clerk's Office hopes to change that. It has outlined a program designed to educate the voting public not only about who is on the ballot locally, but about such things as voter registration, sample ballots and absentee voting.
Who Needs to Register to Vote?
Missouri law requires that voters be properly registered and cast a ballot based on their current address. Many people, however, fail to update their address when they move. Just renewing a driver’s license does not mean a voter’s registration has been automatically updated. The implications of a bad address could result in a voter losing the ability to cast a ballot on Nov. 4. Voters who have moved to a new county also must re-register to vote. Those voters who do not re-register are NOT allowed to return to the previous county to cast a ballot. Voters who move but still reside in the same county are encouraged to update their address with the election office prior to Election Day. Those who do not will be required to correct their address and possibly travel to a new voting location as a result of the new address.
“As election officials, we want each citizen to have his voice heard," said Wes Wagner, county clerk, in a news release. "However, there are certain rules and laws voters must follow. The most unfortunate part of our job on Election Day is telling a voter that he is not eligible to cast a ballot.”
The Missouri deadline for new voter registrants is October 10. Citizens are encouraged to visit any city hall, library or school to complete a registration application in order to vote in Jefferson County. In addition, any citizen is able to visit the County Clerk’s website www.jeffcomo.org to check his or her registration status. Citizens also are also welcome to visit the clerk’s office in person at 729 Maple St. in Hillsboro, in order to register to vote.
Sample Ballots to be Mailed to Every Voter
Voters in Jefferson County should look in their mailboxes during the last week of September for a Sample Ballot. Every voter who has a current address on file with the County Clerk’s Office will receive the brochure. Any voter who does not receive the flyer should contact the clerk’s office immediately. This may indicate an individual is not properly registered with Jefferson County. The sample ballot will contain election information about candidates and issues and will provide the voter an opportunity to study prior to Election Day.
“Most voters will have researched the candidates and come to a decision but many may see the Constitutional Amendments for the first time on Election Day," Wagner said. "We know that there will be long lines of voters. So, to make your trip to the polling place more convenient, please use our check-list and be a well-prepared voter.” Wagner said.
The sample ballot will also serve as the voter’s official election reminder or notice advising the polling location, the deadline to register to vote for friends and family who have not yet taken the opportunity to get registered, and the locations where applications may be completed. Voters who have Internet access are welcome to visit the county clerk’s website at www.jeffcomo.org and click on “View My Sample Ballot” under the News heading in the left margin. This will be the actual ballot a voter will see on Election Day. The site also contains a Google map of the polling location for the voter as well as a complete list of elected officials that currently represent the voter.
Additional election information can be found on the county clerk’s website under the heading “Frequently Asked Questions-Elections” such as historical election results and identification requirements for voters. Jefferson County first provided this option for voters in 2010 and has had 19,000 visitors to the site.
Consider the Absentee Voting Option
Voters who will be out of town, away at school, or who have a medical condition that will prevent them from going to the polls on Election Day are invited and encouraged to consider voting absentee. Missouri does not have ‘Early Voting.’ Missouri law requires that a voter give a reason for voting absentee. This period begins on Tuesday, September 25 and ends on Monday, November 5 at 5 p.m. Voters may request an absentee ballot via fax or by written request through the mail. The Jefferson County Clerk’s Office fax number is 636-797-5360. The mailing address is P.O. BOX 100, Hillsboro 63050.
Jefferson County is again stressing the absentee option for voters who may have difficulty standing in line due to a medical condition. Long lines are anticipated that could make the voting experience troublesome for some voters. In 2008, 11,000 people used the absentee options under Missouri law. Voters should contact the county clerk's office at 636-797-5486 with any questions.
“Often times we see some voters entering the polling location with the assistance of wheelchairs, walkers or canes. We certainly appreciate their dedication, but we want those voters to understand that they are allowed under Missouri law to cast a ballot from the convenience of their own homes prior to Election Day,” Wagner said.