The Power of a Vote: 19th Amendment Commemorative Committee providing free notary service

Nancy Bates stands by waiting for any voters who want to get their election ballots notarized for free at the Camdenton Library parking lot on July 8. Voters can meet Bates any day from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. until July 25.

Local resident Nancy Bates thinks democracy is fairly important and that citizens should probably participate in it. That is why you can likely find her in the parking lot of the Camdenton Library each evening until July 25 where she will be notarizing election ballots for free from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Voters just need to bring an I.D. and a pen.

Bates is a member of the 19th Amendment Commemorative Committee and the service is being held in honor of the 100th anniversary of the amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Bates said the duty of voting as a citizen should not be taken for granted.

“A lot of people worked really hard for a long time and were treated very badly for us to have the right to vote. We should not take it lightly and we need to be proud of our opportunity and utilize it,” she pointed out.

In May of last year, the 19th Amendment Commemorative Committee formed to recognize the anniversary and the stated purpose of the non-partisan organization is to, “educate and bring awareness of the 100-year anniversary of the law and the role of suffragists in U.S history. The suffragists efforts and all of the hardships they endured resulted in a guarantee that all American women have the right to vote.”

Bates noted that joining the group, which also has men participating, was a good use of energy as a retiree and the organization was scheduled to appear in different events like the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Osage Beach and Lake Ozark and the annual Dogwood Festival before COVID-19 came around.

Bates retired to the Lake area in 2013, coming back to an area where her parents have lived since the 80s. On election day she usually works as an election volunteer and becoming a notary was another way to serve her community.

“I thought this would be a good thing for the community to help out and become a notary. It was real simple,” Bates said of the process.

To become a notary in the state of Missouri, one must be 18 years of age or older, be a registered voter in the county in which they are applying to become a notary, be a resident of the county in which they are applying to become a notary, be able to read and write English and not had a notary public commission revoked in the past 10 years.

Bates completed an online application on the Missouri Secretary of State’s website, purchased a 4-year notary bond, filed the notary bond with the county clerk’s office and also took an oath of office and once she was approved, she purchased a Missouri notary stamp and record book to be able to perform notarial acts.

Now comes the notarization. Bates began offering the service for the first time on July 7 and will continue to do so each night until July 25, which should provide ample time for mail-in and absentee ballots to arrive at their destinations for the August 4 primary in Missouri.

“People don’t have to come in contact with anybody and I have hand sanitizer, a mask on and alcohol to clean the clipboards off with,” Bates said of what voters could expect as they come to get their ballots notarized. “It should be pretty safe and people don’t have to get out. I’ll just go up, check their identification to make sure it is them, give them a clipboard, have them sign their ballot and then they just fill out my notebook and that’s it.”

Overall, Bates is hoping this use of her time will increase voter turnout and increased participation in democracy. After all, that right has not always been around.