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Postal delays, greater demand for ballots leading to spike in complaints, groups say

Postal delays, greater demand for ballots leading to spike in complaints, groups say

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY — The NAACP and a voting rights group on Saturday said that postal service delays and an increase in requests for absentee and mail-in ballots are causing a spike in complaints from voters ahead of Tuesday's primary in Missouri.

Denise Lieberman, general counsel of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, said the nonpartisan group has received hundreds of calls expressing concerns about the ballots.

Lieberman said there has been a “tremendous increase” in interest in voting by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. That has caused a strain on voting officials, and is compounded by delays in postal delivery.

Absentee ballots have long been available for those unable to get to the polls. A temporary law enacted amid the pandemic this year allows anyone to get a mail-in ballot, but those who aren't part of a high-risk population need to have their mail-in ballot notarized.

Michael Butler, chairman of the St. Louis City Democratic Central Committee, said his group is hearing that ballots either have not arrived or arrived so late that there was no time to complete them and mail them back in time for Tuesday's primary election.

Scott Anderson, a Kirkwood resident and former member of the school board there, told the Post-Dispatch on Saturday that he mailed his ballot on July 22. According to tracking information on the county election board website, it is still awaiting processing at the post office.

Anderson said he posted about it on Twitter and Facebook, and several others said their ballots were also in limbo.

At a news conference at the NAACP office in Northwoods on Saturday, Lieberman, Butler and NAACP officials said it was now too late to try and mail ballots back. Lieberman said anyone who has their ballot already can drop it off in person, or swap it at the polling place for a regular ballot. 

Close relatives also can return ballots at election offices.

Anyone who has requested but not received an absentee ballot can vote at their polling place after completing a lost ballot affidavit.

People can vote absentee in person until 5 p.m. Monday, she said.  

Curbside voting is available for those with limited mobility or those who need to for other reasons.

Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP, said city voters can mail their ballots at the U.S. Post Office at 1140 Olive Street downtown, across the street from the city election board, which will ensure that it gets to the board in time. 

Contact local election authorities for more information.

The St. Louis County Election Board can be reached at 314-615-1800 and the absentee department of their counterpart in the city of St. Louis is at 314-622-3230.

The Election Protection Coalition hotline is 866-687-8683, and is answered by volunteer attorneys.

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