Missouri absentee voting is now open for 2016 presidential primary

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CALLAWAY COUNTY - After the Iowa Caucus Monday night, Missouri's March 15 presidential primary election feels far away. However, some Missouri voters got their ballots Tuesday.

Tuesday marked the first day county clerk's offices needed to have absentee ballots available for people who are not able to make it to the polls on election day. 

According to the Missouri Secretary of State's website, absentee voters must provide one of the following reasons for voting absentee:

- Absence on election day from the jurisdiction of the election authority in which such voter is registered to vote

- 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

- 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

Callaway County Clerk Denise Hubbard said absentee voters can come in to the office to vote or can vote by mail. Hubbard said her office automatically sends absentee ballots to permanently-disabled voters and people who have a disability that consistently does not allow them to go out and vote on election day. 

For voters who do not automatically receive absentee ballots in the mail, Hubbard said they can fill out an absentee ballot request form, which can be found at their local county clerk's office or on county websites, if available.

The deadline to get absentee ballots in to county clerks' offices is the Missouri primary election day, March 15. 

Hubbard said voting is an important right that should be accessible to everyone.

"Voting is a very important right that we all have, and there are sometimes reasons why people can't vote on election day in a polling place. Be sure to exercise your right to vote and get an absentee ballot if you need it," Hubbard said.    

Columbia resident Kathryn Bates said she believes everyone should exercise his or her right to vote.

"Normally people complain a lot about what's going on in their lives and how things are being run, and if they actually tried to influence that, they might actually be okay with it," Bates said.