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Fair Voting Group Helps St. Louis Voters Correctly Cast Ballots

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has approved a petition to allow Missouri voters to decide whether to expand Medicaid.
Nat Thomas
St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis 27th Ward Voter Empowerment Committee wants residents to know how to fill out ballots, so the issues that occurred in August will not happen in the upcoming presidential election.

For Missouri’s August primary election, hundreds of St. Louis and St. Louis County voters had to revise their vote-by-mail ballots because they were improperly filled out.

To head off those problems for the November election, the St. Louis 27th Ward Voter Empowerment Committee will host a virtual session on how to properly fill out absentee and mail-in ballots at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Knowing how to accurately cast a vote during these unprecedented times is crucial for this election, said Annetta Booth, the committee’s chair.

“We will make sure people don’t make any mistakes filling them out, because for a lot of people this will be their first time using an absentee ballot,” Booth said.

The voting rights advocacy group is encouraging people who want to vote by mail to educate themselves on the process because of issues that election officials and advocates saw during the primary.

Some absentee ballots were rejected because voters did not include an address, sign their envelopes or obtain a notary’s signature.

For Tuesday’s virtual meeting, the group invited voting protection lawyer Denise Lieberman to talk about the difference between absentee and mail-in ballots and help residents correct previous mistakes.

Booth also said the coronavirus pandemic caused the region to see a decrease in the number of polling stations and poll workers, so people voting in person need to recognize that this coming election will be vastly different than other presidential elections.

“Just like where I vote, they had three different precincts there to vote. I was concerned with the lack of [coronavirus] protection. There was only one door to go in and out, and parking was sparse,” Booth said.

Alderwoman Pam Boyd, D-27th Ward, said she expects most of her residents to vote absentee because they are a vulnerable population. But she said there are also young people in her area who need to register to vote and know how to correctly vote if they choose to vote by mail.

“We cannot ignore those people, and we just need to make sure they're educated so they can make their most conscious vote,” Boyd said. “I just feel that we need to make sure that these people are empowered to a point where they don't have to worry on Election Day.”

Another concern Booth and Boyd have with this election is the postal service. Boyd said she expects the mail to run slower around election time.

“With this issue that's going on with mail, we don't know who or how they're going to try to deal with this, so we need to give ourselves time,” Boyd said. “So people need to do it the earliest possible to make sure that their ballots are in.”

To attend the meeting click here.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.

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