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How to Vote Early in Ohio

In this Article:Article SummaryVoting Early by Absentee BallotVoting Early in PersonCommunity Q&A

If you live in Ohio and would like to vote early, your best bet is to send in an absentee ballot by mail. To receive the ballot, fill out an application and request that the ballot be sent to your home. If you'd prefer to vote in person, show up to your county board of elections as soon as it's open once early voting has begun. Early in-person voting typically begins 29 days before an election, although you can apply for an absentee ballot as early as you like within the election year. Voting early is a convenient option for anyone who won’t be able to go to their polling place on Election Day.

1
Voting Early by Absentee Ballot

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    Download the absentee-ballot application form. You can find the form online at the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. This form is the preferred, official means of requesting an absentee ballot.[1]
  2. 2
    Begin the application at least 3 days prior to the election. You can submit an absentee ballot application at any point prior to 3 days before Election Day. If you submit the request application 2 days or 1 day prior to the election, the state of Ohio will not have sufficient time to mail you a ballot.[2] This means that, if you're planning to vote in the national November 6 election, the last day you can submit an absentee-ballot request is November 3.
    • You can request an absentee ballot as early as January 1 on the year of the election, or 90 days before Election Day (depending on which comes first).
  3. 3
    Write a request letter if you don’t have Internet access. If you do not have consistent access to a computer, printer, or Internet, write a letter making a formal request for an absentee-ballot application. The letter can be handwritten or printed from a computer. Address the letter to your county’s board of elections. Your letter must include:[3]
    • Your full legal name and birth date
    • The address you are registered to vote at, as well as the address you want the ballot mailed to (if they differ)
    • The election you want a ballot for
    • A statement indicating that you are a registered voter
    • Your signature or other legal mark
    • The date you signed the request letter
    • The voting party with which you are affiliated (for primary elections)
    • A photocopy of 1 piece of identification such as your Ohio driver's license number, the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, a current utility bill or bank statement, or an official form of photo ID
  4. 4
    Ask for an application in person if you cannot request it online. Make a visit to your county board of elections office and request an absentee ballot application in person. You can fill out the application there on the premises. Or, if you’re in a hurry, complete the application at home and mail it in at a later date.
    • If you plan on applying for a ballot in person, make your request by 6:00 pm the last Friday before the day of the election.
  5. 5
    Mail your application to your county board of elections office. Send the absentee-ballot application (or personal letter) directly to the county board of elections, not the Secretary of State. Your county board of elections must receive the form at least 3 days before the election.
  6. 6
    Wait for your absentee ballot to arrive. After you mail in your ballot-request application, you should receive your absentee ballot via the mail within 1–2 business weeks. However, if you submitted your application only 3 days in advance, you can expect your ballot to arrive within 1-2 days. Call your county board of elections if your ballot fails to arrive within this time frame. Your application may have been lost, or there may be some condition preventing the application from being accepted.
    • If you have any other questions about your absentee ballot request, call the local board of elections. Do not call the Ohio Secretary of State.
  7. 7
    Complete as much of your ballot as you desire. Follow the instructions on the ballot carefully. It will instruct you about the proper way to fill in the bubbles next to each option, as well as how many options you can select for each issue.[4] Most ballots must be filled out with a black ink pen or permanent marker.
    • You are not obligated to place a vote on every issue but can vote on as few or as many issues as you choose. All issues that can be voted on in this election will be listed on the ballot, regardless of whether those issues are national, state-wide, or county-wide.
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    Do not place any identifying information on the ballot. The absentee ballot, like regular voting ballots, must be anonymous. The identification information you provided when requesting the ballot will suffice as proof of your identity and voting eligibility.
    • Do not write any information like your name, address, or SSN on the ballot itself.
  9. 9
    Mail your completed ballot if you have access to the postal service. Place the ballot in the secure-return envelope that was included with the ballot when it arrived in the mail. Then, drop the envelope in a local mailbox. According to Ohio law, the ballot must be postmarked no later than the day preceding the election. The board of election must also receive the mailed ballot no later than 10 days after Election Day.[5]
    • Give the ballot at least 24 hours to arrive at its destination.
  10. 10
    Deliver the ballot early by hand if you cannot mail it. If you don’t have the time or ability to mail your completed ballot, bring it to the county board of elections at or before 7:30 pm on Election Day. If you aren’t able to deliver the ballot in person, it can be delivered by a family member, such as a parent, child, or sibling.[6]
    • If you deliver the completed absentee ballot after 7:30 pm on Election Day, it will not be counted.

2
Voting Early in Person

  1. 1
    Locate your polling place or early-voting location. The early-voting polling location is typically different from your Election-Day polling place. In most cases, early voting is held at the county board of elections. State governments assign polling places based on your place of residence. This means that, if your friends or family members live in a different district or county than you do, you may all have different polling places.
  2. 2
    Show up at your polling place starting 29 days before the election. This is when Ohio early voting typically begins.[8] You can vote early in person up to 1 day before Election Day. Arrive between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm on Monday through Friday. You’ll be able to fill out the entire election ballot at that point.[9]
    • For instance, if you’re planning to vote in the November election in 2018, you can begin early voting on October 10th.
    • Note that your vote won’t be counted until Election Day.
  3. 3
    Bring the appropriate identification to the polling place. Even though the ballot itself is anonymous, you will need to prove that you are who you say you are. State law requires you to bring multiple forms of identification when voting early. So, bring the following forms of ID with you when you vote early:[10]
    • A current photo ID, like a driver's license, government ID, or state ID card
    • The last 4 digits of your Social Security number OR your driver's license number
    • A copy of a utility bill, phone bill, bank statement, paycheck, or other document showing your name and address
  4. 4
    Fill out the ballot by following the directions provided. The ballot should explain how to correctly mark your votes for each candidate or issue. As directed, use a blue or black ink pen to clearly fill in each mark for your votes. Or, if the voting is done electronically, firmly press the button that corresponds to the vote you want to cast.
    • The ballot you receive will list all issues that you are eligible to vote on for the election, including national, state, and county matters. In any type of election, you are not obligated to place a vote on every issue.
  5. 5
    Submit your ballot once you’ve filled it out. Your early-voting station will explain how to securely submit your ballot. Depending on how your county handles the voting procedure, you may need to place your ballot inside a secure, sealed envelope and drop it into a secure ballot box. Or, you may be asked to feed your ballot into a secure voting machine.
    • If you are confused about how to use the voting technology or how to cast your ballot, ask the staff nearby.

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    Tips

    • Ohio election law permits any resident of Ohio to vote early, as long as that resident is a registered voter.
    • You can request an absentee ballot as early as January 1 on the year of the election, or 90 days before the election, depending on whichever comes first.
    • You may deliver your absentee ballot to the county board of elections in person. In this case, it needs to be already completed and sealed. You can hand in an absentee ballot until the time polls close on Election Day.

    Article SummaryX

    To vote early in Ohio by mail, first check your mailbox for an absentee ballot application, which should have been sent to every registered voter. If you did not receive one, you can download the application from the Ohio Secretary of State website. After you receive your absentee ballot, follow the instructions carefully on the proper way to mark your selections, as well as how many options you can choose for each section. Then, place the ballot in the return envelope, and mail with a postmark no later than the day before the election. For more advice, including how to vote early in person, keep reading!

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    Article Info

    Categories: Voting

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