More than 16,000 people have already voted absentee or by mail in Boone County. That’s more than 285% higher than the total absentee vote in 2016.

In fact, Boone County is quickly approaching 20% of the total 2016 vote of 85,012. That total is running slightly ahead of the national trend, which, as of mid-October, showed the country’s early voting reaching 16% of all votes cast in 2016.

“We still have two more weeks to go of absentee, so we’re going to have more than we even have now,” Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon said.

National experts believe this rush to early voting could lead to the highest voter turnout in any presidential election in more than a century, though state officials believe turnout in Missouri may be in line with 2016, just with more of it coming in early.

While there is not early voting in Missouri, Boone County is allowing voters to fill out and submit absentee ballots at the county clerk’s office. This “in-person absentee voting” can be done until 5 p.m. Nov. 2, the day before election day. Voters will need a form of identification.

While the state opened up voting by mail to all Missourians, in-person absentee voting requires a stated reason.

Without a stated reason for voting absentee, ballots must be sent through the mail.

Voting at home

Another voting option, announced by Lennon’s office on Twitter, is specific to those who are under quarantine for COVID-19, either due to infection or close contact.

The clerk’s office is able to send bipartisan election judges, one Democrat and one Republican, to the residence of any individual in quarantine in order for them to cast their vote. Like in-person absentee, the deadline for this kind of voting is 5 p.m. Nov. 2.

“We encourage people, if they fall into that scenario, to give us a call, and we will set up a team,” Lennon said.

State panorama

More than 484,000 Missourians have already voted through mail-in or absentee ballots, as reported by Missouri’s secretary of state Thursday.

“We would expect that the turnout (for the election) will be somewhere in the range of 65% to 70% of all registered voters,” said Maura Browning, director of communications for the secretary of state.

The secretary of state’s office reported there had been a total of 646,279 ballots requested through Thursday — 585,546 of those were absentee ballots.

A total of 484,206 have been returned to local election authorities. Just four days before, the office had received only about 367,000 ballots out of 504,000 ballots requested. That’s an increase in returned ballots of 31% in those four days, an indicator of the growing trend in early voting in the state.

“We would anticipate that the turnout will probably be similar to other elections, but the number of people at the polling places may be reduced due to that,” Browning said.

On Wednesday morning, the secretary of state’s office reported more than 4.3 million registered voters in the state. This slightly surpasses the 4.2 million registered voters reported for the 2016 general election.

The registered voters this year so far also beats the 4.1 million registered voters for August’s primary election and the 4.1 million registered for the presidential primary election this past March.

Voting on Election Day

Voters who wait for Election Day — Nov. 3 — have options as well.

They can vote at either a voter’s precinct or the central polling location of Mizzou Arena. All registered Boone County voters, regardless of their normal precinct, will be able to vote at the central location.

“We’re expecting thousands of people to vote there,” Lennon said.

Lennon said the location will be equipped with adequate staff and machines in order to accommodate the expected demand.

In past elections, Memorial Union was used as a central polling location, and Lennon said the set-up at Mizzou Arena will be similar.

All polling places in Boone County will open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • State Government and General Assignment Reporter, Fall 2020. Studying Print & Digital News Reporting and Religious Studies. Reach me at wickerperlis@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 573-882-5700

  • State reporter, fall 2020, studying data journalism and interested in tech and new media. Reach me at jax5c@missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

  • Mark Horvit is the state government editor. Call me at 817-726-1621 with story ideas, tips or complaints.

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