Columbia Mayor Brian Treece and Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft discussed the safety of in-person voting and the new 2020 voting options at a news conference Monday afternoon.

The goal of the conference was to assure voters that their votes will be counted.

“The most important thing is that every voter has the ability to choose the option that works for them, so you don’t have to sacrifice your health for the right to have your voice heard,” Treece said.

Ashcroft highlighted the limited health risks associated with in-person voting.

“There is no statistical evidence that shows that (the spread of) COVID-19 increases with voting,” Ashcroft said. “The best way to make sure that your vote is counted is in-person.”

There will be four different options to cast a vote in the upcoming primary election: in-person voting, in-person absentee voting, absentee voting and mail-in voting.

In-person absentee voting is when a person physically casts their ballot in-person before the election.

Ashcroft emphasized the importance of requesting absentee and mail-in ballots as early as possible to guarantee that voters meet required deadlines.

“If you do know that you will be using another method (in reference to in-person voting), request it now,” Ashcroft said.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail for the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 21. In-person absentee ballots can be cast up until 5 p.m. Nov. 2, the day before the election.

Mail-in ballots must be requested from a voter’s local election authority and must be mailed back through U.S. mail. Absentee ballots may be returned by mail or in person.

Voters are eligible for an absentee vote with a notary if they:

  • Cite religious beliefs or practices.
  • Are working as an election worker.
  • Are incarcerated but still eligible to vote.
  • Are certified in the participation in an address confidentiality program.
  • Are absent on election day from their district.

Some voters may be eligible for an absentee vote without a notary. For example, as of 2020, someone who has contracted COVID-19 is eligible for an absentee vote without a notary.

More information on absentee eligibility can be found on the secretary of state’s website.

  • Public Health and Safety Reporter, Fall 2020 Studying news reporting/writing Reach me at

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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