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As no-excuse absentee balloting starts, St. Louis County sees less early voting

Voting polls on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, at the International Institute in south St. Louis.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
No-excuse, in-person absentee voting started on Tuesday.

Tuesday marked the first day voters could go to an election authority’s office and vote without checking off an excuse — a longtime goal of county clerks and election directors.

But in St. Louis County, the state’s largest voting jurisdiction, the number of people casting absentee ballots is way down compared to 2018, which could be a signal that this election cycle is not as competitive as past ones.

For years, local election officials have urged Missouri legislators to scrap the state’s excuse-based absentee ballot system. They contended that there was no way to know if the reason voters put down on an application was accurate and that the system scared people away from voting early.

This year, Missouri lawmakers approved a no-excuse, in-person absentee period. On Tuesday, St. Louis County elections officials publicized satellite offices in all seven county council districts in which residents can cast a ballot early. All of those facilities will be open starting on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — and will remain open until Nov. 7.

“Get it out of the way so you don’t have to worry about it on Election Day,” said Eric Fey, the Democratic elections director for St. Louis County.

Fey said that voters must have a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, military ID or passport, to vote. If someone doesn’t have one of those forms of identification, they can cast a provisional ballot on Election Day.

“Provisional ballots don't exist in law for absentee voting if you don't have an ID,” Fey said. “But on Election Day, you can do that.”

Fey said absentee voting is lagging compared to 2018, the last time there was a midterm election in Missouri. St. Louis County Republican Elections Director Rick Stream noted that Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and GOP challenger Josh Hawley were competing for a U.S. Senate seat that year. This time, Republican Eric Schmitt and Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine are running against each other for the Senate.

“Generally, Democrats vote more absentee than Republicans do," Stream said. "And Republicans turn out on Election Day.”

Below are the satellite absentee locations in St. Louis County:

  • The University of Missouri-St. Louis Millennium Student Center, 17 Arnold B. Grobman Drive. Normandy 63121
  • St. Louis County Board of Elections, 725 Northwest Plaza, St. Ann 63074. This location opened for in-person voting on Tuesday.
  • St. Louis Community College-Meramec, 11333 Big Bend Road, Kirkwood 63122.
  • North County Rec Complex, 2577 Redman Road, St. Louis 63136
  • Mid-County Branch Library, 7821 Maryland Ave. Clayton 63105
  • St. Johns UCC Melhville, 11333 St. Johns Church Road, St. Louis 63123
  • Daniel Boone Branch Library, 300 Clarkson Road, Ballwin 63011

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum   

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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