Perry County’s April 7 Municipal Election will be postponed until June 2, 2020 due to an executive order issued by Governor Mike Parson on March 18 declaring a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 per a request from Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.
The Executive Order declares that ballots already printed for the April 7 election may be used at the postponed date of June 2. Voters who have attained the age of 18 by April 7 will be allowed to cast a ballot.
“Given the growing concern surrounding COVID-19 and the large number of people elections attract, postponing Missouri’s municipal elections is a necessary step to help combat the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of Missouri voters,” Governor Parson said. “Postponing an election is not easy, but we are all in this together. We are thankful to Secretary Ashcroft and our 116 election authorities for their leadership, cooperation, and commitment to doing what is best for their communities during this time.”
Perry County Clerk Jared Kutz said members from the statewide County Clerk’s association have been in talks regarding the April 7 Election for the majority of the week, and worked closely with Secretary Ashcroft to make sure Missouri’s state leadership could make an informed decision about how to handle the election.
“Amid the Covid-19 crisis we are facing as a state and as a community, I applaud Governor Parson’s action to postpone the General Municipal Election scheduled for April 7 to ensure the public safety of not just our voters, but our poll workers as well. On Election Day, those workers come in contact with hundreds of individuals, and it is important that we protect them to the best of abilities, Kutz said. “As a county and through the clerk’s association, we were discussing many different variables on how best to hold the election while making sure our local population could follow the CDCs recommendations on mass gatherings and social distancing. Postponing the vote is the best way to ensure public safety while still making sure the will of the people is heard.”
Secretary Ashcroft also supports the decision to delay the vote.
“I deeply appreciate Governor Parson’s quick approval and am thankful to the local election authorities – your county clerks and boards of election – who have worked through developing health concerns to find a unified and secure means of implementing our next election,” Ashcroft said. “Missouri has 116 separate election authorities, almost all who are elected in their own right, and we have come together to help protect Missouri voters. These are difficult times, but I am grateful for how we have responded, worked together and come to a resolution that helps every single Missouri voter.”
According to Parson’s order, Section 44.100, RSMo, provides that during a state of emergency, the Governor is authorized to “waive or suspend the operation of any statutory requirement or administrative rule prescribing procedures for conducting state business, where strict compliance with such requirements and rules would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action by the department of health and senior services to respond to a declared emergency or increased health threat to the population.”
The Executive Order requires local election authorities to publish notice of the June 2 election as required in Section 115.127.2, RSMo. In addition, the Executive Order states:
• The closing date to register to vote in this election remains March 11.
• The deadline for filing as a write-in candidate for office remains March 27 at 5 p.m.
• The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot (Section 115.279, RSMo) shall be May 20.
• A public test of voting equipment shall be completed no later than June 1.
• In-person absentee ballots may be cast until 5 p.m. on June 1.
• The deadline by which absentee ballots must be received by the election authority (Section 115.293.1, RSMo) shall be 7 p.m. on June 2.
• Military and overseas voters must request a ballot from an election authority by 5 p.m. on May 29, and the deadline for local election authorities to make ballots available to such voters is April 18. Military and overseas ballots must be received by the election authority by June 5.
• Local election authorities are also directed to post information on their website, use social media if available, issue press release, conduct public appearances, and directly contact stakeholders such as candidates.
Kutz wants to assure voters that making elections safe for the Perry County population is a number one priority for him and his staff, and wants to remind voters that voting absentee is a readily available option.
State law regarding absentee voting provides six options for a voter to cast a ballot as an absentee voter:
1. Absence on election day from their jurisdiction;
2. Incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, including a person who is primarily responsible for the physical care of a person who is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability;
3. Religious belief or practice;
4. Employment as an election authority, as a member of an election authority, or by an election authority at a location other than the voter’s polling place;
5. Incarceration, provided the individual is still eligible to vote;
6. Participation in the state’s address confidentiality program called “Safe at Home.”
As described in state law, an application for an absentee ballot may be made to the local election authority by the applicant in person, by mail, or by fax or email. An individual may also request an absentee ballot for an applicant, in person, if the individual is his or her guardian. Absentee ballot applications by mail must be received by May 20, and must be returned to the voter’s local election authority by the time polls close on Election Day. If you wish to vote absentee in person, you may do so until 5 p.m. the day before the election at your local election authority’s office, which in this case would be June 1.
“Additionally, our office will be open the first Saturday before an election for absentee voters,” Kutz said. “In this case, that would be May 30, from 8 am -Noon.”
Any additional questions regarding the election can be directed to County Clerk Jared Kutz, at 573-547-4242, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.