What's the deal with Ohio's Primary?

March 31, 2020 / voting

If you already voted, great! There is nothing for you to do. If you didn't early vote for the March 17 primary election, you can now cast your ballot by mail until April 28th.

How did this happen?

After some legal confusion and public health concerns, Ohio's in-person voting did not yet take place. The power to set the election generally lies with the Ohio legislature, so last week, they passed a bill that extended the opportunity to vote by mail to April 28, 2020. The previously announced date for June is no longer valid. This means that voting will not be in person EXCEPT for:

  1. Voters with a disability that wish to use the accessible machines or an accessible marking device; and
  2. Those who can't receive mail where they live or do not have a home to receive mail.

So, if you have a disability or are homeless, you may vote in-person on April 28, 2020, at your county Board of Elections between 6:30 am-7:30 pm.

What if I live in an institution or facility?

Registered voters who are home-bound or in institutions or facilities can still ask for assistance from county boards of elections, who can send staff to your residence to deliver the absentee ballot and provide any needed help in completing it. Here is a link to the form to request assistance. Voters who are unexpectedly hospitalized have until April 28 at 3 pm to request assistance from their county BOE. You must submit a form, but there are different forms depending on whether you have a disability, when you were hospitalized, and where you are hospitalized.

These processes are complicated and DRO recommends you call our intake line.

What do I need to do?

You will need to print and mail an absentee ballot request form or call your county Board of Elections, to request an absentee ballot request form. The completed application must be received by your county board of elections by noon on Saturday, April 25.

Then, when you receive your ballot by mail, the new law requires that it must contain prepaid return postage.

Your completed and signed absentee ballot should be postmarked by Monday, April 27, or dropped directly off to your county Board of Elections by 7:30 pm on Tuesday, April 28.

DRO recommends you do NOT delay! The sooner you request your ballot, the better. Detailed instructions are below in this blog.

More questions? Consult the Secretary of State Primary FAQ. If you have any trouble throughout the voting process, please contact DRO at 614-466-7264 or 1-800-282-9181, press option 2 and leave a voicemail.

What else should I know?
  • The voter registration deadline has currently not changed. You must have been registered by February 18, 2020, to participate in the 2020 primary election.
  • If you've already voted, you're good! Your vote will be counted on April 28 with everyone else's.
  • You will need stamps for the absentee ballot application. Ohio's legislature previously restricted the ability of county boards of elections to mail out postage paid request forms and they did not include funding in the legislation passed last week.
  • Do not delay in requesting your absentee ballot. Your application may be rejected for an error or there may be slowdowns in the mail system.
  • If you are a registered voter, you should also look out for Ohio's Secretary of State to send you a postcard that will provide more information about the process as well as the deadlines for submission. However, you should not wait for this piece of mail to act.
Can I have detailed instructions on how to request an absentee ballot?

If you haven't already voted, you must request an absentee ballot, it will not be automatically sent to you. Though you have until April 25 for the Board of Elections to receive your absentee ballot request, we highly recommend sending your request as soon as possible.

Step 1: Print and complete an absentee ballot request form, and mail the request form to your county Board of Elections

  • If you do not have access to a printer or stamps, call your county Board of Election.
  • Your request form must arrive at your county Board of Elections by noon on April 25, 2020.

Step 2: Receive your absentee ballot in the mail and follow the directions for completing the ballot.

  • Assuming you are properly registered to vote and completed the request form correctly, you will receive your absentee ballot and accompanying instructions in a timely fashion.
  • If there is a question regarding your voter registration eligibility, you will receive a provisional ballot with a note indicating why your registration has been flagged and pre-paid postage for the provisional ballot.

Step 3: Return your ballot to your county Board of Elections.

  • MAIL your absentee ballot, and it must be postmarked by Monday, April 27, 2020. OR
    DROP OFF your absentee ballot by Tuesday, April 28, 7:30 pm

And don't forget, if you have any trouble throughout the voting process, feel free to contact DRO's intake department at 614-466-7264 or 1-800-282-9181, press option 2 and leave a voicemail. Intake Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Or you send a web intake using this form.

Thank you to Ohio Votes and Common Cause for some of the content for this blog


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