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How to Vote in Ohio

November 3, 2020 is Election Day. It’s the day that we, as United States citizens, decide who our next president will be, as well as who our elected leaders will be at the U.S. Congressional, state, and local levels of government. A number of specific ballot issues, such as local tax levies, will also be on the ballot. It’s as important as it’s ever been that we all cast our votes on Election Day.

So how do you vote in Ohio?

There are two steps every Ohio citizen must take in order to vote: (1) register, then (2) vote.

1. REGISTER.

You can register to vote online, by mail, and in person. However, the voter registration deadline is October 5, 2020, so be sure to register as soon as possible.

  • REGISTER ONLINE — To register to vote online, go to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Online Voter Registration Webpage and follow the prompts. You will need to provide you name, date of birth, address, last 4 digits of your social security number, and your Ohio driver’s license or other Ohio ID card number.

  • REGISTER BY MAIL — To submit your voter registration application through the mail, you will first need to obtain a paper registration application. You can get that application online here: Voter Registration PDF Form. Or you can call your county board of elections or the Ohio Secretary of State (at 877-767-6446) and request to have a registration application mailed to you. Once you receive the application, complete it and mail it to your local county board of elections.

  • REGISTER IN PERSON — You can also obtain a voter registration form and submit it at numerous public departments, agencies, and offices, including at your local county board of elections, bureau of motor vehicles (BMV), public libraries, and various other designated public agencies, including your local Department of Job and Family Services and Department of Health.

Regardless of how you register, you will need to register by October 5, 2020 in order to vote for the November 3, 2020 General Election.

2. VOTE.

Once you’re registered, you’re ready to vote! In Ohio, you can either vote by mail, or you can vote in person.

VOTE IN PERSON — If you don't want to vote by mail, don’t worry! You can still vote the old-fashioned way — in person. You can simply go to your designated polling place on Election Day, or, if you want to avoid the lines and long waiting times, you can vote early at your county board of elections.

  • Early In-Person Voting at Your County Board of Elections — You can vote in-person at your local county board of elections beginning on October 6, 2020 and ending at 2:00 p.m. on November 2, 2020, the day before Election Day. Just be sure you know where your county’s board of elections office is. You can find your county’s board of elections’ address and phone number in the Ohio Secretary of State's online Board of Election Directory.

  • Election Day In-Person Voting — You can also vote in-person on Election Day at your designated polling place. Please be aware that your designated polling place is typically not your county board of elections office. To find your polling place, you can call your county board of elections and ask for the location, or you can use the Ohio Secretary of State’s interactive Find My Polling Location Map, select your county, then enter your address, and you will be given your polling place. And be sure to check when your polling place opens and closes so you don’t miss your chance to cast your vote!

VOTE BY MAIL — There’s a lot of confusing information floating around right now about “voting by mail” versus “absentee mail-in voting,” as if they’re different things. In Ohio, there’s no difference. Ohio just calls its vote-by-mail option “absentee mail-in voting.” And you don’t have to prove any specific hardship in order to vote by mail. Any qualified Ohio voter can vote by mail without stating a reason.

To vote by mail, you first have to request your absentee ballot, then complete it and mail it to your county board of elections.

  • How to Request Your Absentee Ballot — You can get an Absentee Ballot Request form by downloading one from the Secretary of State’s website, by calling and asking for one from your county board of elections, or by making your own. If you make your own, make sure it includes the right information. For information on each of these 3 options, see the Ohio Secretary of State’s How to Request Your Absentee Ballot WebpageWhen completing your form, be sure to carefully and accurately provide your information. If you don’t, your application might not be processed correctly. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 31, 2020, so if you plan to vote absentee, be sure to submit your Absentee Ballot Request form as soon as possible.

  • Complete the Absentee Ballot and Return it to Your County Board of Elections — Once you receive your absentee ballot, you will need to carefully complete it, then mail it to your county board of elections. If you return your absentee ballot by mail, it must be postmarked no later than the day before Election Day and received by your county board of elections no later than 10 days after the election. If you want to be extra sure your ballot is received in time by the County Board of Elections, you can deliver your completed ballot to your board of elections in-person, instead of mailing it.

There are many different ways to make your voice heard in Ohio on Election Day. So find a voting method that works for you, then cast your vote!

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