Ohio Voters : Absentee Ballot Request
Absentee Voting in Ohio
Ohio is commonly a battleground state in major elections, which means it is more important than ever for Ohio residents to participate in the 2020 presidential elections. Unfortunately, voting has become much harder due to complications with Covid-19. Many states who tried to push through early primaries have shown how difficult it is to run an election while maintaining social distance guidelines. One of the ways you can safely participate in the upcoming election is to register as an absentee voter, which allows you to cast a vote through the mail.
Applying for an Absentee Ballot in Ohio
Some critics are against absentee voting because they are concerned about security risks, but there are many protocols in place to protect your vote. One of the first layers of security begins with the application. All registered voters have the right to vote by mail in Ohio without providing a reason, but you must complete an application. When you complete the application, you are providing the following information:
- Name, address and date of birth.
- Legal signature.
- An identifying document, such as your driver’s license or Social Security number, photo or military identification or a government document, utility bill or bank statement from the last 12 months.
All of these identifying factors are meant to stop someone from impersonating you on the application to steal your ballot. In addition, if your application is approved, it creates a paper trail showing you registered as an absentee voter. This keeps you or any other voter from casting an absentee ballot and then going to the polling station to cast a ballot in-person.
Ohio has a generous deadline to request an absentee ballot. The final day you can submit your application is three days before the election. You can contact your county board of elections office to request a copy of the absentee voter application. You can also print a copy of the application online to complete and mail to the office. Finally, you can visit the office in-person to obtain a copy. To encourage voters to safely vote by mail in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, state officials decided to send all currently registered voters an absentee voter application.
Casting your Absentee Ballot in Ohio
Once your application is approved and processed, you will receive an absentee ballot in the mail. In Ohio, your ballot includes a return envelope, so you are not responsible for paying postage. The ballot also contains a list of instructions informing you how to correctly mark your choices as well as where you can send the completed ballot. While most voters send the ballot through the mail, you may also go to a polling station when early voting begins to physically hand your sealed ballot into a secure deposit box.
The final deadline to submit your absentee ballot is 7:30 p.m. on election day. Ohio does allow a small grace period to collect votes through the mail. Any absentee ballot that arrives 10 days after the election is accepted, as long as the postmark shows it was sent before the deadline. On average, the U.S. Postal Service says it takes between two and five days for absentee ballots to get delivered in Ohio.
When you receive your ballot depends on your county and what time you submitted your application. Ohio has an online tool which allows you to track the status of your ballot. If you have not received your ballot in October, consider contacting your county election office to check the status of your ballot.
Overseas and Military Absentee Voting in Ohio
Ohio uses a nearly identical application and voting process for overseas and military voters. Instead of using the normal application, you must register using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). One of the differences with the FPCA is you can complete the application online. You can still request the application by mail, but there are significantly longer wait times due to the distance. The last day you can request an absentee ballot as an oversea or military voter is October 31st, and the ballot must be returned by November 2nd for the 2020 presidential election.
How Ohio is Preparing for the 2020 Election
Frank LaRose, the Ohio Secretary of State is working closely with the Ohio Association of Election Officials to prepare the state for voting during a pandemic. As of writing, state officials have secured over $12 million in federal funding, which will be distributed among polling stations. The funds will be used to purchase additional protective equipment, such as face masks and sanitizers, as well as hiring and training new poll workers. With an increase in poll workers, the state will be able to open up additional voting stations throughout the state. This will make it easier to avoid long lines and having to crowd up during the election.
The state is also investing increased resources for absentee voting. This includes hiring new workers to process the influx of absentee applications as well as upgrading equipment to quickly print both ballots and applications. State officials are also closely working with health care and senior living facilities to ensure safe voting conditions for vulnerable voters.