MO Hurricane Relief Organizations Provide Absentee Ballots to Volunteers
COLUMBIA - With Missouri volunteers and employees scrambling to the Northeast to lend a hand to help victims of superstorm Sandy, both the Missouri Task Force and Ameren Missouri took steps to assure their displaced workers the right to vote.
According to Gale Blomenkamp, the public information officer for the Boone County Fire Protection District, getting the absentee ballots to the task force posed a challenge.
Missouri Task Force 1 learned of its deployment on Monday, Oct. 29. The deadline to register for an absentee ballot was the next day: Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. To register for an abesentee ballot, voters must fill out a form from the Missouri Secretary of State website.
Then a local election authority must approve the request for an absentee ballot. The state of Missouri designates local election authorities by county.
Blomenkamp said the fire district's administrative staff had to contact an estimated 20 election authorities for about 66 people sent to the Northeast on Oct. 30. Then the election authorities approved the requests, and by Friday Nov. 2, many of the ballots were en route to the task force members.
Once the ballots reached those serving in the New England area, a local public notary there must approve the ballot. Blomenkamp said FEMA provided a notary on site where the task force is working.
Finally, the ballots must come back to the election authorities in Missouri by Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. Blomenkamp said it's a challenge logistically to get the ballots back on time, and added the district did all that it could to provide its volunteers the ability to vote.
Also, Kent Martin, a spokesman for Ameren Missouri, said the company sent a total of 667 employees and contractors from Missouri and Illinois to New Jersey. Martin said the company made the absentee ballots available to the workers, but it is the employee's responsibility to make sure the ballot makes it back to Missouri on time.