Scales of Justice

In a move that could add more confusion to absentee voting in Missouri, a federal judge in Kansas City Friday tweaked a controversial requirement for casting absentee ballots.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. with just 25 days to go before the Nov. 3 election, U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes issued a temporary restraining order that allows voters to return mail-in ballots in person; the current statute required that they be sent by mail.

But, in doing so, Wimes also acknowledged time was short heading into a national election. In his order, he told Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to direct counties to count all ballots that are received by Election Day.

“In this context, any harm or cost to defendants in implementing this change is minimal, especially when weighed against the risk of total disenfranchisement of Missouri voters,” Wimes wrote.

Ashcroft said in a statement he was “disappointed a federal judge decided to legislate from the bench and overturn the will of the people, through their elected representatives, to have safe and secure elections.” Ashcroft said he has asked the attorney general’s office to “immediately appeal the decision and request a stay.”

The state’s notice of appeal, on Ashcroft’s behalf, was filed late Friday with the federal court clerk.