Student Voting Guide | Missouri

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Missouri. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here.

While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.

Registration

Missouri offers online voter registration here. Voter registration forms are also available to download and print here.

Voter registration closes at 5 pm on the fourth Wednesday before Election Day.[1] Mail-in registration forms must be postmarked by that date.[2] A full list of Missouri’s registration deadlines for all elections is available here.

You must show ID when registering to vote in person.[3] Valid IDs include: a copy of a birth certificate, a Native American tribal document, other proof of United States citizenship, a valid Missouri driver’s license or non-drivers’ ID, or other form of acceptable ID.[4] (See Identification below for more information on acceptable IDs). ID need not be presented with mail-in registration forms if you intend to vote in person.  However, if you register to vote by mail and want to vote for the first time by absentee ballot, you will need to provide a copy of your ID to election officials before they will send you an absentee ballot.[5]

You can register to vote beginning six months before your 18th birthday so long as you will be 18 by the time of the election.[6] If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote. If you think you might be affected, you should contact your local election officials.

Residency

At School. Students can establish residency in Missouri if they have a present intention to remain at their Missouri school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home.[7] Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional.    

At Home. Students who lived in Missouri prior to attending school and who wish to establish or keep their Missouri voting residency (i.e., at their parents’ address) should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state. Like all states, Missouri allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the county or state to attend school.  The only way you will lose this residency is if you “abandon” it by asserting residency in a new state. While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered an abandonment of residency in Missouri, some judges or officials might view it as such. If you have established residency in another state and are moving back to Missouri with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register at home.

Voting in Missouri may be considered a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents.

Challenges to Residency.  Poll workers, partisan challengers, or other registered voters may challenge voters’ qualifications at the polls.[8] Challenges to the eligibility of individual voters are decided by election judges at the polls.[9] If your vote is denied due to a challenge, you may appeal to the local election authority.[10] You may be required to sign an affidavit affirming your qualifications to vote.[11] If your qualifications to vote cannot be determined, you will be able to vote a provisional ballot if you show either acceptable ID (see section on Identification below) or sign an affidavit.[12] Your vote will be counted once the election authority determines that you are qualified to vote.[13]   

Students have the right to cast a ballot as a resident of Missouri regardless of whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. Any challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid.

Identification

All Missouri voters must show some form of ID at the polls in order to vote.[14]

Acceptable ID includes: any ID issued by the federal government, Missouri or a local election authority; any ID issued by a Missouri public or private institution of higher education, including technical or vocational school; a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains your name and address; or a driver's license or state ID card issued by any state.[15]

If you do not have an accepted form of identification, you may still cast a ballot if two election officials at the polling place attest that they know you.[16]

Absentee Voting

You may vote absentee if you will be unable to go to your polling place on Election Day.[17] If you are voting in Missouri for the first time, you may vote absentee, but first-time voters who registered by mail will have to submit acceptable proof of identification with their application for an absentee ballot (see list of acceptable IDs in the Identification section above). You can send your application for an absentee ballot, which is available on the web site of the Secretary of State, to the office of your local election authority by mail or fax or by delivering it in person.[18] An application may also be submitted on your behalf by a guardian or close relative.[19] You may submit your application in person until 5 p.m. on the day before the election.[20] If you mail your application, it must be received by the local election authority by 5 p.m. on the Wednesday immediately prior to Election Day. [21]

Your completed absentee ballot must be received by an election official by the close of polls on Election Day in order to be counted.[22] You must sign the absentee ballot envelope in front of the election official (if returning in person) or in front of a notary (if mailing your ballot).[23]

Last Updated August 15, 2014


[1] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.135(1). For registration deadlines for all elections, check out the Missouri Secretary of State’s useful list at http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/calendar/.

[2] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.151(2).

[3] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.135(2).

[4] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.135(2).

[5] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.159(2).

[6] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.133(1).

[7] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[8] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.429(2).

[9] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.429(3).

[10] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.429(3).

[11] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.429(5).

[12] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.430.

[13] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.430.

[14] See Frequently Asked Questions, MO Sec’y of State, http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/questions.aspx#2_1 (See response under “On Election Day” to “1. What kind of identification do I need to take with me to vote?”).

[15] See Acceptable IDs to Vote, MO Sec’y of State, http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/docs/acceptable_ids.pdf (PDF).

[17] Mo. Ann. Stat.§ 115.277.

[18] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.279(1).

[19] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.279(1).

[20] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.279(3).

[21] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.279(3).

[22] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.293(1).

[23] Mo. Ann. Stat. § 115.291(1).