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Voting is important, so much so that it’s often referred to as a citizen’s “civic duty.” This freedom remains one of our nation’s most significant political rights. However, for many, the actual voting process remains a mystery. To simplify the oft-confusing system, REACH has compiled useful voting resources and FAQs to help prepare for the upcoming federal election on Tuesday, November 3.
The first step is making sure that you’re registered. You can register online in both Kansas and Missouri, but you need to do it soon. The deadline to register in Kansas is October 13, 2020; the deadline in Missouri is October 7, 2020.
You’re eligible to vote in U.S. elections if you:
Many states are streamlining the process to vote absentee or by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Absentee voting is available to Kansans, and no excuse is required. The last day to request an absentee ballot is 7 days before the election (October 27, 2020). You can return your absentee ballot request form through the mail or in person.
In Missouri, there is a difference between absentee and mail-in voting. Missourians may vote by mail for the November 3 election. Mail-in voting does not require an excuse, but it does require a notary. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office has compiled a list of notaries that will notarize ballots for free.
Additionally, Missouri voters may vote absentee with a notarization of the ballot envelope. Voters in at-risk categories for contracting or transmitting COVID-19 are eligible to vote absentee by mail without getting the envelope notarized. In Missouri, the deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 21, 2020.
Nonprofits play a vital role in getting as many of their constituents to the polls as possible. El Centro, Inc., a nonprofit organization with the mission of “strengthening communities and improving lives of Latinos and others through educational, social, and economic opportunities,” has been involved in voter outreach since 2014.
Through its Voter Engagement Initiative, El Centro’s community mobilizers are working to boost voter engagement by training volunteers, making sure that new and traditionally unlikely Latino voters cast their ballot, developing leaders to support mobilization, and focusing efforts on policy issues of interest to Latino communities.
COVID-19 has affected El Centro’s strategies for engaging potential voters. Prior to COVID-19, mobilizers canvassed neighborhoods with high concentrations of Latino residents to create informal opportunities to educate, register and listen.
“The pandemic created a demand for programs and services beyond our standard delivery methods,” said El Centro, Inc. President & CEO Irene Caudillo. “However, we never stopped.”
Outreach shifted online, using virtual classes, appointments and Facebook to connect. Additionally, the nonprofit turned to partners such as Spanish-language radio and TV to help with education and promotion of activities to motivate people to register and vote.
“COVID-19 has many worried about going out to vote in the upcoming election. However, we cannot let this silence our voices,” said Caudillo. “We encourage our community to continue to follow safety procedures if they go to polls early or on election day, including washing your hands before and after voting, wearing a mask, wiping down any voting equipment you use before and after you use it, and maintain a six-foot distance from others.”
In order to vote in-person, you need to know two things: the location of your polling place and what identification to bring in order to vote successfully. Find your polling place by clicking here, or by clicking the links below in the FAQs section.
Voters in Kansas and Missouri will need to show a form of valid identification at their polling place. Acceptable forms of ID include, but are not limited to, a state driver’s license, a non-driver’s ID, a U.S. passport, a military ID, or a student ID from a state school. Click to learn more about general voting information in Kansas and Missouri.