August 4, 2020 Primary Frequently Asked Questions

The Board of Election Commissioners is committed to the health and safety of voters and poll workers during the August 4, 2020 Primary Election.

July 17, 2020 | 8 min reading time

If you have a question, do not hesitate to contact the Board of Elections directly by phone at 622-4336, in person at 300 N. Tucker Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63101, or by email using the Board of Elections  website at https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/.

1.  Will I have to wear a facemask at the polling place?

On July 1, 2020, Mayor Lyda Krewson issued an Executive Order requiring all individuals to wear a face mask or covering at all times when in indoor facilities and outside when social distancing is not possible.  The Board of Elections strongly encourages voters to use cloth face coverings while in the polling location.  The City of St. Louis has provided the Board of Elections with a supply of masks available for distribution to voters at polling places.

2.  What if another voter refuses to wear a mask?

Volunteers at the entrance to the polling place will ask the voter to please wear a mask if they have one.  If the voter says they do not have one, the volunteer will offer the voter a mask.  If the person still refuses to wear a mask, the volunteer is instructed to contact a Poll Manager.  Poll Managers will attempt to accommodate the voter by offering the voter options other than entering into the polling place.  If the voter refuses these accommodations, it is the position of the Board of Elections that we cannot refuse an eligible voter the right to vote.  Safe social distancing will be maintained to limit the exposure of all voters to risk.  An isolated location will be provided to the voter to cast his or her ballot separate from other voters wearing masks.

3.  I am considered high risk for contracting or transmitting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 ("COVID-19").  Are there other voting options available to me other than voting in person at a polling place?

Legislation recently went into effect making voters who are at risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 eligible to vote by absentee ballot.  Voters who are sixty-five years of age or older; live in a long-term care facility licensed under RSMO Chapter 198; have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; have serious heart conditions; are immunocompromised; have diabetes; have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis; or have liver disease can request, receive and vote an absentee ballot WITHOUT A NOTARY (which is required with most other absentee ballots).  For information regarding requesting an absentee ballot please see https://www.sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri/Absentee-MailinBallotSummaries.pdf, here https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/documents/upload/Regular-Absentee-Ballot.pdf; and here https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/voter/absentee-ballot-and-voting.cfm.  It is important to note that the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is July 22, 2020.  An absentee ballot can be cast in person at the Board of Elections up until 5:00 p.m. on August 3, 2020.

4.  I am not qualified as at-risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 and not otherwise eligible to vote absentee.  I, however, do not want to vote in person at a polling place.  Are there any other options available to me? 

Legislation recently went into effect creating for Missouri voters the ability to cast a mail-in ballot.  Information regarding requesting a mail-in ballot can be found here https://www.sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/ElectionGoVoteMissouri/Absentee-MailinBallotSummaries.pdf and here https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/documents/upload/Mail-In-application-FINAL.pdf.  All mail-in ballots MUST BE NOTARIZED.  The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is July 22, 2020.

5.  I want to vote by mail but I do not have access to a notary? What should I do?

The Missouri Secretary of State's Office is compiling a list of notaries who have volunteered to assist Missouri voters in getting their mail-in or absentee ballot envelopes notarized at no charge.  The list can be found on the Missouri Secretary of State’s website here https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/MailinNotary#:~:text=As%20a%20result%2C%20the%20Secretary,as%20additional%20notaries%20are%20added and the list is being constantly updated. Patrons of our Public Library system can get their mail-in or absentee ballots notarized for free at the following locations on the dates and times listed below. 

Branch locations: Barr, Baden, Carpenter, Central, Divolli, Julia Davis and Walnut Park.

Dates and Times

July 25, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

July 27, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

July 28, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

July 29, 1 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Additionally, several candidates on the ballot for the upcoming August primary have contacted the Board of Elections and made known they can refer voters to notaries.

6.  Are poll workers being told to stay at home if they are feeling sick or if the poll worker has had recent close contact with a person with COVID-19? 

It is hard work being a poll worker.  The Board of Elections always tells poll workers if they are feeling ill or simply not up to the task to stay at home and call us.  The Board of Elections communicates to all poll workers if they have had recent close contact with a person with COVID-19 to err on the side of caution and stay home.  The Board of Elections is doing its best to ensure polling locations are adequately staffed to cover for any sick or compromised workers.  If you are interested in being a poll worker, or know someone interested in being a poll worker, please contact the Board of Elections.

7.  What hand hygiene measures are being implemented?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will be available at each polling place and placed in locations that ensure its visibility.  Student volunteers will be staffing each polling place and will be encouraging voters to utilize the hand sanitizer.  Surfaces subject to frequent touching will be cleaned and sanitized often.  Poll workers will be strongly encouraged to wash and sanitize hands frequently.  Latex gloves will be provided and available for poll workers and voters who want to wear them inside the polling place.

8.  What about respiratory etiquette?

Signage clearly visible at polling places will encourage poll workers and voters to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of their elbow.  Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands should be washed and/or hand sanitizer should be used immediately.  Student volunteers will have hand sanitizer readily available.

9.  Will I have close interaction with poll workers when being processed to vote? 

The process used in previous elections at polling places will largely remain unchanged. However, the Board of Elections will require all poll workers to wear face masks, and clear plastic shields will separate voters from poll workers when voters are processed.

10.  Will social distancing be maintained?

Student volunteers will remind voters upon arrival to leave space between themselves and others.  Signs will be clearly visible at polling places stressing the need to maintain safe social distance.  Marks will be placed on the floor inside polling places to help remind voters and workers to maintain distance.  Electronic voting machines will be appropriately spaced out.  Voters completing paper ballots will be encouraged to stay separated from other voters if using a common table.  Entries and exits will be clearly marked to discourage bottlenecks.  

11.  Will commonly touched surfaces be regularly cleaned?

Areas that are subject to frequent touching by voters and poll workers will be frequently cleaned.  When voters are processed, they are required to sign a "poll pad" (an electronic tablet) by using a stylus.  After use, the voter will place the stylus in a cup, the used stylus will be sanitized and a clean stylus will be used by the next voter.  Cotton swabs will be provided to voters opting to vote using touch screens so that there is minimal voter contact with the equipment.  Waste cans will be easily accessible for quick disposal of used swabs.  Voters who wish to vote by paper may bring their own pencil or blue or black ink pen to mark the ballot.  Pens will be provided also at polling places.  After the voter uses the pen, the voter will place the pen into a receptacle, workers will replace the pen with a sanitized pen, and then clean the used pen for it to be placed back in rotation.  Areas where voters fill out paper ballots will be frequently cleaned.  Volunteers cleaning these areas will be instructed by the Board of Elections to ensure the surface is dry for the next voter voting by paper ballot.  For voters who are hard of hearing and require use of headphones, volunteers working the polls will be instructed to clean the headphones after every use.  Additionally, voters have the option of bringing their own headphones if they so choose.

12.  In the past I voted at a polling location that also served a nursing home, a long-term care facility or a senior living residence.  Will those same locations be used as polling places?

No.  The Board of Elections has relocated polling places out of concern for exposing those communities to COVID-19.  If you previously voted at Council Towers (a senior living facility), St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Muhammed Mosque, Skinker-DeBaliviere (community association), Heritage House (senior living facility), Booth Manor (a senior living facility), St. Agnes (a senior living facility), or Mt. Zion (a senior living facility) your polling place will be changed.  Election Notice Cards, notifying each voter of his or her polling location, will be sent by the Board of Elections the week of July 20.  If the card you receive is white in color, this means your polling place is the same as for previous elections.  If the card you receive is yellow, please take note that your polling location has changed.

13.  What if I have tested positive for COVID-19 or am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 at on or around Election Day?

Signs posted around the polling places will ask symptomatic voters to not enter the polling place.  Curbside voting, available at all polling places, should be utilized by the voter to minimize contact with voters and poll workers.

14.  What if electioneers are violating safe social distancing?

The Board of Elections maintains the 25-foot space extending from the entrance to the polling place outward.  No electioneering is to take place within that space and this will be strictly enforced by poll workers and teams of Roving Deputies monitoring polling places.  The Board of Elections has no authority to monitor the activities beyond that 25-foot “no electioneering” zone.  However, the Board of Elections will instruct candidates that electioneering in violation of safe social distancing is inappropriate and extremely discouraged.

15.  What should I as a voter do to be prepared?

  • Check your voting location and requirements in advance.  If they have changed, be sure to familiarize yourself with the address of the new location.
  • Verify your voter registration information is correct in advance of reporting to the polling location. 
  • Contact the Board of Elections for additional information for voters with disabilities. 
  • If you bring an acceptable form of identification with you to your polling location (e.g., a driver's license, passport, instate school I.D. card, utility bill, Election Notice Card, etc.), make sure you are ready to produce that document when you get to the front of the line.  If you are a registered voter but do not have an acceptable form of ID with you at your polling location, you may still vote a provisional ballot. However, having an acceptable form of ID with you at the polling place will ensure the line moves as quickly as possible and will facilitate your voting experience.
  • Be familiar with the candidates and issues on your ballot.  For information regarding the ballot for your precinct, feel free to contact the Board of Elections.  Using a tool on the Missouri Secretary of State’s website, a voter can supply his or her residential information, click a link to "View Candidates & Issues," and be provided with candidates and issues specified to the precinct in which the voter votes. That information is here https://voteroutreach.sos.mo.gov/PRD/VoterOutreach/VOSearch.aspx. Being familiar with the candidates and issues will enhance your ability to cast your ballot as quickly as possible.
  •  Feel free to bring your own pencil or blue or black ink pen if you so choose.

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