Although mail-in ballots have proven useful for many, few Nodaway County citizens have requested them compared to absentee ballots.
According to statistics from the Nodaway County Circuit Clerk’s office, as of Oct. 7, 39 mail-in ballots have been requested out of 883 ballots solicited for either absentee, mail-in or walk-in voting. Of those 39 requested ballots, 14 have been returned. These numbers, however, are subject to change as the deadline for requesting mail-in ballots arrives on Oct. 21.
Additionally, there have been 582 absentee ballots requested and 344 of those ballots have been returned.
County Clerk Melinda Patton and her office gathered the number of people requesting, the number of sent out and number of returned mail-in ballots. The number of mail-in ballots in all of these categories is relatively low in comparison to other forms of voting.
“A mail-in is what anybody can request who, essentially, doesn’t want to go to the polls on Election Day but has no absentee reason to vote absentee,” Patton said.
Patton and her office are in charge of organizing and running elections. She said this year has been extremely busy because she has had to put together four different elections.
The number of absentee ballots is also subject to change as the presidential election draws closer.
Patton said she has the absentee ballots categorized as "permanent," "COVID-19" or "other." Permanent absentee voters are people who are not capable of getting to the polls because of age or disability. People concerned about contracting the coronavirus can use this excuse to request an absentee ballot.
Patton explained that she was not obligated to keep track of how many people request an absentee ballot because of COVID-19, but she wanted to anyway.
According to statistics provided by the Patton's office, 264 absentee ballots have been requested marking the COVID-19 excuse, and 179 of those have been returned to the office.
“The reason I’m keeping track of that is that I kind of want to see how many people are using that as a reason to vote absentee,” Patton said.
She noted that this was mostly out of her curiosity since the way elections are run changed when it became obvious the pandemic would continue through the elections.
The last category for requesting an absentee ballot is "other," which can be checked if someone is working on Election Day, can’t be there for religious reasons or for any other excuse that may not be listed as the seven main excuses provided on the application of the absentee ballot application.
Although absentee ballots are used more so than mail-in ballots, freshman digital media major Olivia Bradshaw requested and voted with a mail-in ballot.
Bradshaw said she requested a ballot the week of Sept. 21 but just submitted her ballot the week of Oct. 5. She said that she got her signature notarized at the International Involvement Center in the B.D. Owens Library.
“I think you can trust it and it’s safe,” Bradshaw said. “I heard from others that it is safe and you should still do it.”
Although Bradshaw noted that she had problems with her voter registration and receiving her ballot in the mail, she still advocated for people to vote with a mail-in ballot.
Patton said there are many locations across the community including the county clerk’s office, the Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce, the Maryville Public Library and any of the banks in the community.
Patton expects to see several requests for ballots and the rush of returned ballots as the deadline for requesting mail-in ballots draws closer.