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In Ohio, there are two ways to vote before election day. You can vote by mail with an absentee ballot or you can vote early in-person at an absentee voting location. Some of the deadlines differ if you are overseas and in the military. For more information, see Ohio Military Votes from the Ohio Secretary of State website.
Voting at an early voting site
Ohio voters can vote early at an early voting site that should be accessible and allow people to cast their votes in private. To find the location and hours where you can vote early, contact your local county boards of elections. You will need to bring the following identification to the early voting site:
- The last four digits of your Social Security number; or your driver's license number; or
- A copy of a current and valid photo identification, for example, Ohio driver's license, state ID card, government ID (photo identification must show your name and address); or
- A copy of a current utility or phone bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government document that shows your name and current address, including from a public college or university.
Note: The following information is subject to change.
State law provides that “Early Voting” ends at 6 pm on Friday, November 2, 2012. However, on October 5, 2012, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Obama for America v. Husted that it was unconstitutional to prohibit early in-person voting for non-military voters on the final three days before the election (Saturday, November 3; Sunday, November 4; and Monday, November 5), although the decision allows each county board of elections to decide whether to allow early in-person voting on these three days. The Ohio Secretary of State has requested that the U.S. Supreme Court review and overturn this decision. Disability Rights Ohio will provide updated information as soon as it is available.
Voting by absentee ballot
An absentee ballot allows registered voters to cast their vote without going to their official polling place on election day. Anyone in Ohio who is registered to vote can vote by absentee ballot. You do not have to give a reason why you want to vote absentee.
How to get an absentee ballot application
There are several ways you can request an absentee ballot application.
Automatically receive one in the mail: As of the November 2012 General Election, all registered voters in Ohio will receive an absentee ballot application in the mail. The first mailing will happen in early September and will include all people registered to vote as of July 30, 2012. The second mailing will happen during the first week of October to newly registered voters and to those who updated their voting information after the September mailing.
Request one to be mailed to you: You can request an absentee ballot in writing from the county board of elections where you are registered to vote. Your request must include:
- your name;
- the address where you are registered to vote;
- your birth date;
- which election you want the ballot for and also a statement that you are a qualified voter;
- if you want your absentee ballot mailed to you, the address where you want the ballot sent;
- your signature or other legal mark (your signature or mark declares that you are a qualified voter and are providing truthful information);
- date you signed the form; and
- you must include ONE piece of information that identifies who you are. Include one of the following: your Ohio driver's license number; the last four numbers of your Social Security number; or a copy of your current and valid photo identification, military identification, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and current address. (Note: You cannot show a notice that the board of elections mailed to you as proof of who you are.)
Applications by mail for an absentee ballot must be received by your local board of elections no later than noon on the third day before the election.
Request an application in person: You can also go in person to your county board of elections office and ask for an absentee ballot, which must be accomplished no later than 6 p.m. on the Friday before election day. You can vote with your absentee ballot while you are there or you can take your absentee ballot and vote later by returning your ballot by mail or bringing it back to the county board of elections.
For more information, go to the Secretary of State website: Voting Absentee By Mail or In-Person
What to do when you get your absentee ballot in the mail
Follow the directions provided and mark your ballot. Take your absentee ballot back to, or mail it to your county board of elections office.
The envelope containing the completed absentee ballot must either be received by the county board of elections before 7:30 pm on Election Day, or postmarked no later than the day before Election Day and received by the county board of elections no later than 10 days after Election Day.
The completed absentee ballot may also be delivered in person by the voter or an eligible family member (spouse, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandfather, grandmother, brother, or sister of the whole or half blood, or the son, daughter, adopting parent, adopted child, stepparent, stepchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the voter) to the county board of elections no later than 7:30 pm on Election Day.
The board of elections may contact you regarding an error on your absentee ballot. Some individuals with disabilities are restricted to their homes and unable to travel to the county board of elections to correct that error. According to the Ray v. Franklin County Board of Elections case, and the Secretary of State's Directive 2008-116, the county board of elections and the Secretary of State must make all reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities who cannot travel to the county boards of elections to correct the deficiencies in their absentee ballots.
How to check the status of your absentee ballot
You can contact your county board of elections to check if your absentee ballot was received.
Contact Disability Rights Ohio with voter rights complaints
Disability Rights Ohio is designated under federal law as the system to protect and advocate the rights of people with disabilities and as the Client Assistance Program under the Rehabilitation Act. The mission of Disability Rights Ohio is to protect and advocate, in partnership with people with disabilities, for their human, civil and legal rights.
If you experience problems related to your disability when you register to vote or exercise your right to vote, please contact the Disability Rights Ohio Intake Department at 1-800-282-9181 or TTY 1-800-858-3542.