First a little more information about requesting your absentee ballot which was discussed in Part 2 of this series. Ohio Secretary of State, Frank LaRose has mailed the absentee ballot request form to all registered voters in Ohio. By now you should have received an envelope that looks like this in the mail.
Unless you have already received your form from either the Board of Elections or by downloading it from the sources we pointed out in Part 2, you can use this form to request your ballot. It is very convenient because it comes with your name, address and the board of elections in which you are registered already filled in. IMPORTANT!: If any of this information is incorrect, you need to update your registration with the board of elections. There is very little time left to do this, voter registration closes on October 5, so, if you need to, do it now!
Also, if you use this form, don’t forget to fill out the parts of the form that have not already been filled in by the Secretary of State’s office.
Submitting Your Absentee Ballot
Once your request for an absentee ballot has been accepted by the board of elections, you will receive your ballot by mail. The ballots will be mailed out to voters who have requested them beginning October 6. Note that, if you wait till the last minute to submit your request, your ballot may not be mailed to you until much later than the 6th. This time needed to send and receive the mailings is the weak link in absentee voting. So the key is to do it NOW! Once you have requested the absentee ballot, you will not be able to vote in person unless you can prove that your ballot did not arrive in time for you to vote. (You may be able to cast a provisional ballot in person, but the board of elections will hold that ballot until they are certain your absentee ballot did not arrive—a whole can of worms that delays the final vote count and provides the opportunity for votes to be challenged and discarded.)
When you receive the actual absentee ballot, open it and mark your ballot as soon as possible. If there are candidates or issues you are unfamiliar with, take the time to do some research so you can cast an informed vote—but don’t procrastinate. Your ballot must be received by the board of elections by election day, November 3 at closing time. If you want to return the ballot by mail, that means you need to get it to the Post Office in time to meet that deadline. These days, no one really knows for sure how much time it will take for the USPS to make that delivery.
While we all love and support the US Postal Service, we suggest dropping off your ballot in person as early as possible. Simply take it to your local board of elections office and hand-deliver it. It is worth the effort. The board of elections will have a secure drop box at or near the entrance, so you will not need to enter the office and interact with other people, if you are concerned with safety regarding COVID-19. On the other hand, if you hand it to one of the board of elections workers in the office, they can review the information you filled out on the security envelope and make sure there are no problems with your ballot. They will not open your ballot. They will simply make sure the envelope is filled out correctly and that it has your signature. This eliminates the number one reason why absentee ballots are rejected.
Once you have submitted your ballot, you can track it to be sure it was accepted and counted. More about that in Part 4.
The Ohio Secretary of State website has complete voter information at the Elections and Voting in Ohio page.
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