If people think all legislative bills are designed to make people’s lives harder, an introduction to Senate Bill 282 should dispel that myth. This new piece of legislation would make it unnecessary for county clerks to go through absentee ballots to make sure no ballot cast by a recently-deceased voter is counted on election day.
Under the old rules, absentee voters, who may have cast their ballot up to six weeks in advance, must be alive when polls open on election day. Clerks had to check obituaries for votes cast by the recently deceased, confirm the death with the Department of Health, then throw those ballots out.
If Gov. Jay Nixon signs the bill, it will be welcome news to Webster County Clerk Stan Whitehurst, who worried that the rules were not always evenly applied.
“In larger urban settings, it’s not always possible to go through all the procedures,” he said. “And under the current rules, a soldier who voted absentee and then was killed in combat before the election would have to have their vote removed. I was concerned about that.”
Christian County Clerk Kay Brown said the new bill would put absentee votes on the same standard with those cast in the general election.
“Anyone could die on election day and no one would know which vote was theirs once the ballot was turned in,” she said. “Once a ballot is cast, it should count. That’s only fair.”