What you need to know about Ohio Politics and Policy
Colleen Craig · March 30, 2020
We certainly live in uncertain times.
At last, we have a clear answer about how to vote in the Ohio Primary! Initially, that was supposed to happen on March 17 but in-person voting was canceled at the last minute due to justified concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
So what happened?
*Ballots must be postmarked by April 27th
If you voted before March 17, great! You’re all set and don’t need to take any action. Your ballot will be counted
There will be no in-person voting for the primary, with the exception of a small group of voters. If you have a disability or are experiencing homelessness, you will be permitted to vote in-person on April 28 at the county Board of Elections where you are registered between 6:30 am – 7:30 pm.
If you haven’t voted in the primary yet, the best thing you can do is request your ballot immediately (even though boards of elections will technically accept ballot requests until April 25th). By submitting your request early, you can ensure you will have plenty of time ahead of the April 28 deadline to fulfill the required steps, which we will outline below.
However, if you are a registered voter in Ohio, you will receive a postcard from the Secretary of State’s office explaining:
Some voting rights groups expressed concern that the April 28 deadline selected by the legislature could create logistical challenges due to the requirement that all voters manually request their ballot by mail or phone. Most states with all-mail elections in place send a ballot to all eligible voters.
If only it could be that easy in Ohio, huh?
Again, this is why we encourage you to request your absentee ballot as soon as possible.
There are a few ways you can obtain an absentee ballot request form.
The Secretary of State’s website lets you fill it out before you download and print.
Make sure you sign the form before putting it in an envelope.
Be careful not to list today’s date where you’re asked to list your birth date (that’s a common mistake).
If you fill the form out by hand, here’s a diagram that may be helpful, courtesy of Ohio Progressive Action Leaders:
Once you have your request form in-hand and filled out, put a stamp on it, address it to your county’s Board of Elections, and drop it in the mail; or drop it off in-person. All early vote centers should have drop boxes available to do drive-bys.
Go to the Secretary of State’s website to find your sample ballot for the primary.
IMPORTANT: Absentee ballots must be postmarked no later than 4/27, or they can be dropped off at vote centers by 4/28.
See more FAQs on the Sec. of State’s website.
What election date should I put on my ballot request form? The date of the election technically never changed from March 17, but Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office has stated they will accept March 17, April 28, or June 2 as valid election dates.
Can I request a ballot online? No, although this seems like a commonsense reform worth advocating for, long-term.
What if I don’t have a printer? Not everybody has ready access to a printer, especially right now at a time when many public libraries and office places are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. If you don’t have a printer, call your local county’s board of elections and ask them to mail you an absentee ballot request form. You will still need to complete the form and mail it back before you receive your official ballot.
Can I put multiple applications in one envelope? Yes, but only so long as all the forms are supposed to be delivered to the same county board of elections.
Do I need to pay for postage? You need postage for when you send in your absentee ballot request form. The postage on your ballot should be prepaid.
Does this mean I can vote in the primary if I register to vote right now? Unfortunately, no. In order to be eligible to cast your primary ballot by mail, you have to have already been registered to vote by February 18, 2020.
The voter registration deadline for the November 3 General Election is October 5, 2020. You can register to vote online in Ohio at the Secretary of State’s website.
Tagged in these Policy Areas: 2020 Election