SAC’s Guide to Voting in the General Election

Guide to voting in the general election in Missouri

by Nicolette Laird

The general election is coming up and it’s time to exercise your right as a US citizen to vote! This year on November 3rd, you have a few options to cast your vote: mail-in, absentee, or in-person.

Confused about the differences between these options? SAC is here to help! Click on the accordions below to find out more about the different voting options and their requirements. 


For any of the three voting options, you must be registered to vote.

  • Last day to register is October 7 (ensure ample time if mailing in forms)
  • You can register online or in-person (forms here)
  • Am I registered? (check here)
In-person voting

In-person voting

On November 3rd, you can visit your local polling place and cast your vote in-person.


How to vote

  • Polling places are open from 6:00AM to 7:00PM on election day
    • If you are in line at the closing time of 7:00 PM you can still cast your vote
  • Find your local polling place here
  • What to bring on election day:
    • An acceptable form of ID:
      • ID issued by state of Missouri or the U.S. government
      • ID issued by a local election authority
      • ID issued by a Missouri university, college, vocational or technical school
      • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter.
    • No acceptable form of ID? You can cast a provisional ballot:
      • Go to your polling place on Election Day with a photo ID
      • Your local election authority will determine if your signature on your provisional ballot envelope matches the signature on your voter registration record
Mail-in and Absentee voting

Mail-in/absentee voting  

PLEASE NOTE: These ballots are VERY slow to be mailed out. We recommend you plan on voting in person, either on the day of (if voting in-person) or early (if voting absentee).  

This year, mail-in/absentee voting has been very popular. For this type of voting, you will not have to visit a polling place for your vote to count. In some states, such as Illinois, there is no distinction between mail-in and absentee ballots. In Missouri, however, mail-in and absentee ballots have differences in who qualifies, how they can be requested, and how they can be turned in. If you have further questions, ProSPER has a blog post on more information for mail-in and absentee voting.

What is the difference between mail-in/absentee ballot?

In Missouri, the main differences between mail-in and absentee ballots are 1) eligibility and 2) notarization requirements for voting. Eligibility and notarization requirements are described below.  Information on finding a notary is provided at the end of this section.

Eligibility & Notarization


  • All Registered Missouri Voters are eligible to request a mail-in ballot for the November General Election.
  • All mail-in ballots must be notarized.


    • Must have a valid reason for voting absentee (see below)
      • A notary is required if your reason is:
        • Absence on Election Day from the jurisdiction of the election authority in which such voter is registered to vote
        • Religious belief or practice
        • Employment as an election authority, as a member of an election authority, or by an election authority at a location other than such voter’s polling place
        • Incarceration, provided all qualifications for voting are retained.
        • Certified participation in the address confidentiality program established under sections 589.660 to 589.681 because of safety concerns.
      • Notarization is NOT required if your reason is:
        • Incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, including a person who is primarily responsible for the physical care of such a person.
        • You have contracted or are in an at-risk category for contracting or transmitting COVID-19. . You are considered at-risk if you:
          • Are 65 years of age or older
          • Live in a long-term care facility
          • Have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
          • Have serious heart conditions
          • Are immunocompromised
          • Have diabetes
          • Have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis
          • Have liver disease.

    How do I request a mail-in/absentee ballot?

    Your mail-in or absentee ballot request must be received by the election authority by 5:00pm Wednesday, October 21st. 

    Due to delays with USPS, we recommend submitting your requests in person; if requesting by mail, mail your requests ASAP to ensure you get your ballot on time.

    If you registered to vote by mail and this is your first time voting, you must provide a copy of a valid form of ID with your request. See above for valid forms of ID.


    • Fill out this form
    • Turn in the form to your local election authority in person or by mail (Note that you cannot email or fax your mail-in request)


    • Fill out this form
    • Turn in the form to your local election authority in person, by mail, by fax or by e-mail

    How do I cast my vote?


    • Send your ballot back in the envelope provided
    • You must have your envelope signed and witnessed by a notary
      • Note that you cannot bring a pre-signed ballot to a notary. You must sign your ballot in front of the notary.
    • Your ballot must be received by the local election authority by 7:00pm on election day (Nov. 3rd) – Call them to ask if they’ve received it. If not, see below on how you can still vote in the election.
    • Mail-in ballots MUST be sent via USPS. 
      • To ensure that you have enough time to mail your ballot, try to mail your ballot in by October 7th


    • Vote early in-person at the Election Official Office until 5PM of the day before the election (Nov. 2nd) OR
    • Mail or drop off your ballot back in the envelope provided at the local election office.
      • If dropping off or mailing your ballot, it must be received by the local election authority by 7:00pm on election day (Nov. 3rd).
      • Call them to ask if they’ve received it. If not, see below on how you can participate in the election.
      • You must have your envelope signed and witnessed by a notary unless you qualify for non-notary options (see above for qualifications)
        • Note that you cannot bring a pre-signed ballot to a notary. You must sign your ballot in front of the notary.
        • St Louis Public Library is offering in-person absentee voting Oct. 12-Nov. 2 at Buder, Central, Julia Davis, and Schlafly locations (See this post for more details)

    What to do if you don’t receive your ballot, or if your ballot doesn’t make it in time

    • You can still vote!!
    • If you have your mail-in/absentee ballot, bring it to your polling center and surrender it. They’ll let you vote.
    • If you do not have it, they will call the election official and check if your ballot has been received. If not, they’ll give you a ballot to vote there.
    Notary Information

    What’s a notary? Where can I find one?

    A notary is an official appointed by the state government who acts as impartial witnesses to important document signing.

    • The Gephardt Institute at WashU has a list of St. Louis notaries you can contact for an appointment. In addition, the Gephardt Institute will also have notary events on the Danforth campus and LouHealth will have notary events on the medical campus. SAC will provide information on these events closer to the dates, so make sure to check your email!
    • Louis Public Library will have free ballot notary services Oct. 19 – Oct. 30 Monday-Saturday during normal business hours at Barr, Carpenter, Julia Davis and Schlafly locations (See this post for more info)
    Become a Poll Worker!

    Want to help more? Become a poll-worker!

    Poll workers are essential to ensuring the election runs smoothly. This is a great opportunity to help your community, better understand the election process, and help others exercise their rights as a US citizen.


    • At least 18 years old and a registered voter in Missouri
    • Can read, write, and speak the English language
    • Not a sex offender
    • Not currently on probation or parole for a felony conviction
    • Able to attend a training session before the election.
    • Be available on election day from 5 A.M. until after polls close at 7 P.M.
    • Not hold elective office at the time of service as a poll worker
    • Not appear on the current ballot or have a close relative appear on the current ballot

    Election Jobs Available

    There are a variety of poll-worker positions available. These positions are often paid. Please note that some positions require you to declare your party affiliation.

    • Election Judge: Election Judges help set up the polling place, process voters, hand out ballots, and help close the polling place. Open to Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
    • Election Manager: Managers oversee the polling place set up and processes. They also help process voters, and secure the ballots and polling place materials at poll closing. Open to Republican and Democrat only.
    • Technical Specialists: Technical Specialists set up, maintain, and close down the voting machines in a polling place. This is a Non-Partisan only position, these workers do not declare a party.
    • Roving Deputy: Roving Deputies travel around and inspect polling places for problems, deliver supplies, and are responsible for returning ballots and supplies back to the election authority when polls close. Open to Republican and Democrat only.
    • Student Greeters: Student Greeters help with polling place line control, Covid-19 sanitizing procedures, and may also help with some Election Judge processing duties if needed. Open to Non-Partisan individuals. May be a high school student age 15-18, or adult.

    Ways to sign up to be a poll worker:

    1. Online ( Louis County, St. Louis City, or East St. Louis)
    2. Fill out a paper application and mail it in

    I signed up. What happens next?

    The Board of Elections will make sure you are registered in Missouri and that you are not a sex offender. New poll workers will receive an email once their application is approved and a letter in the mail asking about election availability, and an ID and password for the online portal. New workers will be allowed to pick a training date, and will need to attend one in person training session before the election. They will also be able to review the training, or update their information using the online portal. Once the training has been completed, the worker will be issued an election assignment with the information about where to report on election day.

    Checklist for a new poll worker:

    1. Sign up to be a poll worker
    2. Get an email and letter in the mail saying you are approved to be a poll worker
    3. Pick and attend an in-person training
    4. Once training is complete, you will be issued an election assignment
    5. Show up to your assigned location an election day
    Additional resources

    If you have further questions, here are some helpful resources: 

    Apoorva Arora

    Apoorva Arora

    Committee Member

    I am a graduate student in the Neuroscience PhD program (DBBS). I am working on developing a tool to perform multi-area photometry to  study coordination of activity across brain areas. When I am not in lab, I enjoy dancing, playing the piano, making jewelry, tending to my plants and working for Neuroscience Outreach!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *