Missouri Resources for Voters with Disabilities

What are my rights as a voter with a disability in Missouri?

In Missouri, you have the right to the following as protected by federal law. Election staff must be trained on and respect these rights:

  • Accessible voter registration
  • Accessible polling places 
  • Policies and procedures that do not discriminate against you based on your disability
  • Accessible, available, and operational voting systems
  • Your service animal to accompany you inside the polling place
  • The right to vote privately and independently or with assistance, if needed
  • Assistance from a person of your  choice, who can be a friend, family member, or poll worker (but not your boss, union agent or someone who has authority over you at work)

In Missouri, you also have the right to:  

  • Cast your ballot free from interference in a private and secret manner unless assistance is requested;
  • View written instructions on how to obtain and cast a ballot;
  • Ask for and receive further instructions from election judges concerning the manner of voting;
  • View a sample ballot in the polling place before voting;
  • Cast a vote if you are in line at 7:00 PM (closing time at the polls);
  • Ask for assistance from an election judge or person of your choice if you have any physical disability which hinders your ability to independently vote your ballot; cast your ballot on an accessible voting system (i.e. equipped with an audio ballot); or request curbside voting or a more accessible polling location if needed;
  • Receive another ballot if your ballot is accidentally spoiled or you make an error;
  • Vote by provisional ballot if you are a registered voter and have no form of ID or if your name is not on the precinct register and the election judges or election authority cannot determine your registration status;
  • Vote by absentee ballot as permitted by law;
  • Verify that the choices you made on the screen match the attached voter verifiable paper audit trail if you vote on a "touch screen" system and;
  • File a grievance with the Secretary of State's office if your rights under the Help America Vote Act, Title III, have been violated.
Who can register to vote in Missouri?

To register to vote in Missouri, you must be: 

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 17 ½  (you still need to be 18 in order to vote)
  • A resident of Missouri

If you are a student, unhoused, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical impairment, you may still register and vote.

In Missouri, you may not register or vote if you:

  • Have been declared mentally incompetent, unless your right has been restored 
  • Have been convicted of an election related offense, felony or misdemeanor
  • Have been convicted of a felony of a non-election related matter. In this case, your right to vote is automatically restored once you complete your full sentence (including probation and parole).

Register to vote now if you are eligible!

What are my rights when registering to vote in Missouri?

Federal law requires assistance in registering to vote from offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs serving people with disabilities. Responsibilities of these offices include:

  • Providing voter registration forms
  • Assisting voters in completing the forms
  • Transmitting completed forms to the appropriate election official

All aspects of voter registration must be accessible.

What are the different ways to vote in Missouri?
  • In-person absentee
  • In person on Election Day
    • Curbside voting
       
  • Absentee with excuse
  • Absentee without excuse starting two weeks before an election
  • While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request
  • A provisional ballot at a polling place that is counted after officials confirm your eligibility
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in Missouri?

In Missouri, registered voters with a valid excuse can request an absentee ballot by mail. To do so, you must provide one of the following reasons:

  • Absence from the jurisdiction of the election authority where you are registered to vote on Election Day;
  • Incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability on election day, including if you are primarily responsible for the physical care of a person who is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability and reside at the same address; 
  • Religious belief or practice;
  • Employment as an election authority or by an election authority at a location other than such voter’s polling place, a first responder, a health care worker, or a member of law enforcement;
  • Incarceration, provided all qualifications for voting are retained (e.g. if you have not yet been convicted).
  • Certified participation in the address confidentiality program established under sections 589.660 to 589.681 because of safety concerns.

You can request an absentee ballot in the following ways:

  • In person from your Local Election Authority
  • by mail
  • by fax
  • by e-mail
  • Relatives within the second degree (spouse, parents and children) may complete an absentee ballot application, in person, on behalf of the voter who wishes to vote absentee
  • Please note that a voter cannot request a ballot through the Secretary of State's office

Absentee ballot requests sent electronically or by mail must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday prior to any election. You can vote absentee in-person in the office of the local election authority until 5:00 p.m. the night before the election.

Voters requesting an absentee ballot by mail who have registered by mail and have not voted in person are required to submit a copy of their personal identification unless they provided a copy with their registration application. Examples of acceptable identification are:

  • A nonexpired Missouri driver or non-driver license;
  • A nonexpired military ID, including a veteran’s ID card;
  • A nonexpired United States passport; or
  • Another photo ID issued by the United States or the state of Missouri which is either not expired or expired after the date of the most recent general election.
  • This identification requirement, as well as the notary requirement for absentee ballots, does not apply to overseas voters, those on active military duty or members of their immediate family living with them or voters who are permanently disabled and their caregivers.

Request an absentee ballot now or contact your local election official to find out how to get an accessible ballot.

How is the Missouri mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?

If you need an alternative ballot, please contact your local election official.

What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Missouri?

Federal law requires polling places to meet minimum compliance standards for individuals with special needs. 

  • The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA) requires accessible polling places in federal elections for elderly individuals and people with disabilities. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, voters must be provided an alternate means of voting in person on Election Day.
     
  • The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires at least one accessible voting system for persons with disabilities at each polling place in federal elections.  The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters receive. 

If you want to check that your polling location meets these standards or find an alternative polling location, contact your local election official.

Missouri also provides for:

  • Curbside Voting: Voters with limited mobility can vote "curbside" or outside the polling place. Just go to your polling place and ask someone to go in and ask poll workers to bring a ballot out to you. They should bring you a ballot within a reasonable period of time.
     
  • Accessible Polling Places: If you have physical disabilities and your polling place is not accessible, you may request a different polling place assignment so that you may vote in a more accessible polling place. You may also vote at a central location. Contact your local election authority to make this request.  You can also call (800)NOW-VOTE for more information.
     
  • Accessible Voting Systems: Every polling place must have an accessible voting system for individuals with disabilities including audiovisual accessibility. Accessible systems include an audio ballot to make your selections or the ability to enlarge text so that you can read the on-screen ballot with ease.

If you are unable to stand in line, you can:

  • Request to be moved to the front of the line or refuse to be moved to the front of the line
  • Request that a chair be provided or refuse to accept a chair
  • Request to have your place in line held and notified when it is your turn
What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Missouri?
  • You may request assistance from a poll worker or receive assistance from a person of your choice with the following exceptions:  
    • your employer or an agent of your employer
    • an officer or agent of your union
       
  • A poll worker cannot force you to accept assistance.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment prior to Election Day?
Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in Missouri?

Please contact the Missouri Protection and Advocacy Service if you have a disability related problem when voting and you feel your rights may have been violated. They can help you with access issues.

If you believe there has been a violation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), you can file a HAVA Elections Complaint Form within 30 days of the election.  Complete the form and return it, signed and notarized:

  • By mail, addressed to:
            Missouri Secretary of State’s Office
            Attn: Elections Division
            600 W. Main St.
            Jefferson City, MO 65101
     
  • Or by email to elections@sos.mo.gov

You can also fill out a Violation of Civil Rights Complaint Form and submit it to the US Department of Justice by one of the following methods:

  • Online, through the form’s submission process - this is the fastest method.
  • By fax at (202) 616-9881. You MUST include “ATTN: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Complaints" at the top of your fax submission for it to be processed correctly.
  • By mailing your form to: 

                 U.S. Department of Justice
                 Office of the Inspector General Investigations Division
                 ATTN: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Complaints
                 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
                 Washington, DC 20530

For additional assistance, The National Network of ADA Centers can provide local contact information for other organizations you may wish to contact, including your Regional ADA Center or ADA Knowledge Translation Center, or Federal Agencies and Resources.