Republicans are nervously awaiting the Tuesday deadline for Rep. Todd Akin (R) to drop his Missouri Senate bid. But Friday is a big day, too.
The first wave of ballots is set to be mailed to Show-Me State voters living overseas, including those serving in the military. And if any change to the ballot occurs after those ballots are sent out, voters who received them could be disenfranchised — a factor that could motivate a Missouri court to block any request by Akin to remove himself from the ballot, according to one state official.
The Missouri secretary of state's elections division confirmed that Saturday is statutorily the first day ballots will be made available to military and overseas voters. But a secretary of state official said today that many ballots likely will be sent out Friday, as the official date falls over the weekend and the local authorities responsible for sending ballots might not be working Saturday.
The secretary of state's office does not print and distribute ballots. Rather, it's up to the state's 116 local election authorities, so "it's really difficult to determine how many have been printed at this point," said Stacie Temple, communications director for the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State.
"Unfortunately there's no provision to send out new ballots, so any of those votes would not be counted," Temple said of a scenario in which Akin drops his bid.
Akin is challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), considered among this cycle's most vulnerable incumbents but predicted to win if her politically damaged opponent remains on the ballot. Though Akin has given little to no indication he will exit the Senate race, if he decided to do so, he would need a court order to remove himself from the ballot.
The court order likely would "be issued as long as there's no objection by any election authority," Temple added, but she cited the early ballot mailing as a potential reason any one of the 116 local authorities might petition the court not to fulfill the withdrawal order. "Perhaps they might see that as a reason to object — that those voters might be disenfranchised," Temple said.
If Akin does withdraw by Tuesday with the assistance of a court order, his campaign would need to cover the costs incurred to reprint ballots featuring the name of a different GOP candidate, which the state's central committee would have 28 days from the day of his withdrawal to choose or no later than October 12, as Roll Call previously reported.
National Republicans are steadfast in their opposition to Akin's candidacy. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) today reiterated that the NRSC will not spend money in Missouri if Akin is on the ballot.
"We're done," Cornyn said.