(TNS) — President Trump’s suggestion not withstanding, Kansas and Missouri election officials say adequate safeguards are in place to stop anyone who might want to vote twice on November 3.
Election administrators will rely on statewide electronic voter databases to alert poll workers when a registered absentee or mail-in voter tries to vote in-person.
“If a voter who had a mail ballot in the system shows up on Election Day to vote, on the poll book, it will say ‘Advance Ballot,’” said Clay Barker, deputy general counsel for the Kansas Secretary of State office. “They won’t be allowed to vote — to just cast a ballot and leave.”
Voters can still fill out a provisional ballot, but it will be marked by an election worker to indicate that they have already filed to vote by mail.
“The county, after the election, will check to see if a mail ballot actually came in for that person,” Barker said. “If not, then that provisional ballot is their vote. If the mail ballot actually showed up, they don’t get two votes. The provisional will be thrown away.”
Voting more than once in an election is illegal in all 50 states, not to mention a federal offense. But earlier this month, in the battleground state of North Carolina, Trump suggested that voters both mail their ballots and show up at the polls on Election Day.
Trump has been an outspoken opponent of mail balloting and has asserted, without evidence, that it leads to fraud. He proposed that North Carolinians demonstrate the weakness of the nation’s election system by attempting to vote twice.
“Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote. If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote,” Trump said earlier this month.
Maura Browning, a spokesperson for the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, said local election offices can be accommodating to voters who have made a mistake.
“Let’s say I request an absentee ballot and it comes to me in the mail and then I forget to send it in,” Browning said. “I can take that to the polling place on Election Day and ask them to spoil (destroy) that ballot and then they’ll provide me another ballot that I can complete.”
The Kansas VoterView webpage, run by the secretary of state’s office, helps voters track the status of their ballot. Voters can see if they’ve submitted a vote-by-mail request, if the ballot has been sent to them, and if it has been received by their county election office.
Missouri has no comparable mechanism for tracking ballot status, but Browning said voters who return their ballots promptly shouldn’t worry about their vote not counting.
For mail-in and absentee ballots to count in Missouri, they must be in the hands of election authorities by the time polls close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Kansas mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day will be counted, as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.
The state is taking other steps to ease the burden of advance voting on an already strained U.S. Postal Service.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced last month that Secretary of State Scott Schwab would authorize counties to use two additional ballot drop boxes for mail-in votes. Drop boxes have one-way openings, tamper-proof locks and video monitoring.
“If you have a concern, it’s better to physically drop [your ballot] off at a polling place on Election Day, or an early voting location,” Barker said.
Some Missouri counties have ballot drop boxes, Browning said, but only absentee voters can use them. Mail-in voters must return their ballot through the postal service for it to count.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has not embraced expanded mail-in voting, maintaining that the best way for Missourians to cast a ballot is still in-person.
For his part, Trump has decried ballot drop boxes as a “voter security disaster.”
“Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times,” Trump said in an Aug. 23 tweet. There is no evidence that this claim is true.
©2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.