The Christian County Clerk wonders aloud how many people will turn out to vote in municipal elections on June 2.
Originally slated for April 7, the June election will decide who will hold positions of leadership in city governments across Christian County. It will also decide whether or not Ozark will be able to start collecting an online sales tax equal to the local sales tax it collects on purchases made in storers, whether or not the Ozark School District will be able to issue $26.5 million in bonds to finance development of an extended high school campus, and whether or not Nixa’s home rule charter will undergo changes for the first time in 10 years.
Christian County Clerk Kay Brown worries that some Christian County residents will feel unsafe going to a polling place in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, while at least five active cases of COVID-19 are still going in Christian County. That’s part of the reason why absentee voting will be made available through the clerk’s office with some unique conditions.
“If someone would like to vote absentee and request their ballot by mail, they may send an application and we can send out a ballot to them. However, the latest we can receive a ballot after we receive the application is May 20,” Brown said.
Some absentee ballot applications will require notarization, such as when a voter marks the space to indicate that they will simply be “absent on Election Day.” The clerk does not have a notary public on staff. However, not all absentee voting will require notarization. and the clerk or an employee of the clerk’s office may be able to sign the space on the application where a notary public would sign, on a case-by-case basis.
“One of the reasons that you can vote absentee is if you are incapacitated, or you are sick, or you are a caregiver,” Brown said.
If you want to vote early at the Christian County Historic Courthouse, you are asked to call ahead. Employees of the county clerk’s office can even walk out of the building and meet people at their vehicle if they make arrangements ahead of time.
You can find the absentee voting form on the county clerk’s website at http://christiancountymo.gov/offices/county-clerk. You can reach the clerk’s office at (417) 582-4340 to ask questions or make absentee voting arrangements. The appointments are done, Brown said, for the safety of her staff and the other workers who share the three-story building.
“We want to protect all of the people who work in the courthouse, so we don’t want to put anyone at risk,” Brown said.
Absentee voting is available at the county clerk’s office in Ozark every Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday, May 30, the clerk’s office will offer absentee voting between 8 a.m. and noon for people unable to get to to the courthouse during Monday-Friday hours.
If you decide to vote at your polling place on June 2, the county clerk and the election workers ask that you bring your patience and set aside more time than usual. Hand sanitizer will be available at all polling sites, and workers will be protecting themselves and voters with masks.
“We have several items in place for COVID-19 at the polls that we will be implementing. One thing about it, at the polling sites on the election date June 2, we will have distancing,” Brown said. “For that purpose, it may take people a little longer to vote. Social distancing will not allow us to have as many people in the polling site at one time.”
Brown said her staff would prefer voters use the standard pens at polling sites, which will be sanitized regularly, but voters may use their own pens. It must be a ballpoint pen with black or blue ink. No other colors, and no other types of pens may be used.
“If any of the voters want to wear a mask or gloves, or bring their own pen, they’re welcome to do so. No gel pens—I want them to use our pens, which we’re going to have them sanitized. If they use a gel pen, it will mess up the reader,” Brown said. “That would be very, very costly.”
The clerk is also looking for people who may wish to sign up to be election workers.
“I always need election judges. I can never have enough. The ones that I have are wonderful, but at times, they become ill or their spouse becomes ill and at the last minute they can’t help me,” Brown said.
At http://christiancountymo.gov/offices/county-clerk, you can find and download the form that starts the process of becoming an election worker. Brown will then put your name on a list for future training sessions.
“All of my election judges, I require them to have training before they serve on an Election Day,” Brown said.