Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has been delivering COVID-19 pandemic supplies to local elections officials as they prepare for June 2 municipal elections.
At his last stop Thursday afternoon, Ashcroft left face masks, distancing strips, sanitizer and face shields for Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer and his staff to use at the polls.
"What I'm getting asked by clerks is, 'Are other people having trouble?,'" Ashcroft said. "They're telling me that their poll workers are calling in and saying they'll be there on Election Day to work. If they have poll workers that have pandemic concerns, they see the materials we are delivering and what the local election officials are doing, and that has helped to alleviate concerns."
Korsmeyer said all poll worker positions have been filled for Cole County's June 2 election.
Despite taking these measures, Ashcroft doesn't expect a large voter turnout.
"Municipal elections usually aren't very good, but it's going to vary if there are hot mayoral races or tax issues on the ballot," Ashcroft said. "We'll see anywhere from 7-15 percent voter turnouts."
Just before adjourning their regular session last week, Missouri lawmakers passed a bill allowing people to vote by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Voters currently can request absentee ballots only if they provide an excuse for why they can't vote in person. Illness is one option, but the law isn't explicit on whether that covers healthy voters concerned about catching or spreading COVID-19.
Under the bill sent to Gov. Mike Parson, people considered at risk for serious complications from the coronavirus — those age 65 and older, living in a long-term care facility or with certain existing health problems — could vote absentee without needing to have their ballot notarized. Anyone else could cast a mail-in ballot but would need it notarized.
Ashcroft said last week he no longer supported the measure after lawmakers stripped a contested photo ID requirement from it.
"I think it's confusing for voters because we have mail-in ballots and absentee ballots and there are different requirements for each," Ashcroft said. "There was a compromise that kind of did what the clerks wanted, which was use the absentee ballot mechanism, but that didn't make it. Had the photo ID requirement been left in, I think that would have been a common-sense way to help people have faith in their election."
The Associated Press contributed information to this article.