ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - In-person absentee voting for the November election began Tuesday in Missouri on National Voter Registration Day. Recent problems with absentee ballots in St. Louis City have increased the spotlight on both voter registration and absentee voting in the St. Louis region.
Election authorities report a few complaints from residents who have received voter registration material from a not-for-profit group the Voter Participation Center. The outside envelope warns recipients government documents are enclosed and should not be discarded. That prompted St. Louis County registered voter Diana Beard to call police to ask if it was a scam. She questioned why the organization was trying to appear to be a government agency. She said, "this just seemed fishy."
The letter said voter registration was due in Missouri on October 17. However, Missouri voter registration actually closes on October 12. The voter participation center told the Missouri Secretary of State it had sent out 95,000 such letters with the incorrect date and promised to send those recipients postcards correcting the deadline.
Page Gardner, president of Voter Participation Center, issued a statement Tuesday saying the organization is dedicated to increasing the participation of "historically underrepresented Americans in our democracy. Since its founding the VPC has helped more than 3 million Americans register to vote."
Another viewer complained to Fox2 that she and her husband received a letter addressed to his deceased aunt who had never lived in St. Louis City. In response to that, Gardener said the not-for-profit group uses commercially available residential databases and matches them to each state's voter file to identify those who are unregistered yet eligible to vote.
Various locally operated voter registration efforts are underway across Missouri. Some are sponsored by the League of Women Voters and others by schools, universities, and political parties. Students at both St. Louis University and Webster University held on campus voter registration drives Tuesday to mark National Voter Registration Day.
Additionally, St. Louis County has opened a temporary off in the Deer Creek Plaza shopping center to accommodate the 30,000 to 40,000 absentee ballots county residents are expected to cast for the November election. The office is located at 3232 Laclede Station Road and will be open from 9 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday through Nov. 7. The office will also accept the ballots from 9 am to 1 pm on the four Saturdays immediately preceding the Nov. 8 election, Oct. 15, 22 and 29 and Nov. 5.
Scott Lunte of the Webster Student Government Association said "I think there is this stereotype that our generation is not involved, is politically apathetic. It is not really true. We have very strong feelings and we want to make sure our voices are heard."
Voter Registration Information
If you are not sure if you are registered to vote from your current address you can check it out at a website sponsored by your state's secretary of state.
In Missouri it is: http://s1.sos.mo.gov/elections/VoterLookup/
In Illinois it is: https://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationLookup.aspx