COLUMBIA — Missouri's voter registration deadline for the Aug. 2 primary passed Wednesday at 5 p.m., leaving unregistered, voting-eligible citizens unable to vote until the November election.

The Aug. 2 ballot features elections for Missouri's new 3rd and 4th U.S. House of Representative districts, as well as the U.S. Senate primary election. Boone County residents can also vote for local candidates in statehouse primary elections, and some Columbia voters will decide the outcome of the city council Third Ward tiebreaker special election between Roy Lovelady and Karl Skala.

"Historically, we've seen higher turnout in a primary than in an April local election," Brianna Lennon, Boone County clerk, said. "So we're anticipating somewhere in the 35-to-40% range for turnout in this election."

Lennon explained that primary campaign advertisements and national media attention can bring more people out to register.

"We have had a steady increase in voter registration," Lennon said. "And we're in the absentee voting period for Aug. 2, so we've seen more people coming in to do that as well."

Absentee ballots can be submitted up until Aug. 1, the end of a six-week window that began June 21. Registration for absentee ballots ends July 20.

The primary marks the last election in Missouri that requires absentee voters to provide one of six valid reasons that can accommodate an absentee ballot. By the November election, no reason will be necessary to request an absentee ballot, one of many changes signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson that will take effect on Aug. 28.

Lennon explained that the Missouri Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities maintains regular communication and often discusses potential voting law changes. She said the elimination of absentee voting requirements and the ability to change addresses after registration deadlines were two ideas that the collective was happy to see enacted.

"Being able to consider a change in county as a change of address instead of a new registration, that's something that we've been talking about a long time," Lennon said. "County clerks for years have been unanimously in favor of no excuse absentee voting, so that was good to see on there."

Still, those absentee requirements haven't prevented Boone County residents from opting to vote early instead of waiting for Election Day.

"We're up to almost 60 people that have come into the office, which compared to the April election, it's significantly more than what we had," Lennon said.

Two rising sophomores at the University of Missouri, Zaideh McDermott and Molly Dean, both registered to vote at the clerk's office Wednesday, but neither had prior knowledge of the deadline.  

"I feel like they could've maybe spread the word on social media, because we didn't know about it," McDermott said. "I don't think anybody did." 

The Boone County Clerk's Office runs social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok (@VoteBooneMO), but small followings on each profile can make it difficult for the office to reach voters who aren't aware of registration deadlines.

Lennon said that while it can be difficult to partner with local institutions like MU when school isn't in session, she said previous partnerships, such as one in 2020 with Mizzou Athletics, were effective in raising registration rates.

A new voter identification policy is also a part of the new policies going into effect on Aug. 28. A photo I.D. issued by either the state of Missouri or the U.S. federal government will be required to vote in the November general election.

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