#AdvocacyMatters: DRO Voting Round-Up

April 10, 2020 / COVID-19

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with all aspects of our lives, including voting. If you’ve already voted, well done! If you didn’t vote early for the March 17 primary election, the Ohio legislature has passed a bill that extends the opportunity to vote by mail to April 28, 2020, the date our primary election was rescheduled to due to the stay-at-home orders.

And while recent legislation was passed to ensure Ohioans have expanded voting opportunities in light of the crisis, we are concerned that voters with disabilities who have not yet voted in the primary election are still facing substantial obstacles that could disenfranchise large numbers of them. With that in mind, Disability Rights Ohio took action, requesting that Ohio’s Secretary of State simplify the process to apply for absentee ballots, provide curbside voting for those who wish to vote on April 28, extend the time voters have to correct “imperfect” ballots and issue a directive to county boards regarding accommodations for voters with disabilities. You can read our letter to the Secretary of State here. DRO also filed a second friend-of-the-court brief this month, urging the federal court to step in and require the state to conduct elections that allow equal access for people with disabilities. However, we don’t anticipate federal action. Therefore, here is what you need to know today to ensure your right to vote safely.

  • Your board of elections must receive your absentee ballot application by noon on Saturday, April 25.
    The completed and signed absentee ballot must be postmarked by April 27.
  • Our friends at All Voting is Local have produced this video to help educate Ohio voters with disabilities on how to use the remote ballot marking system. This technology allows voters with disabilities who cannot independently mark a paper ballot to cast their ballot securely and autonomously from home. 

In-person voting on April 28 is available for:

  • A voter who has a disability and wants to cast a ballot using a direct recording electronic voting machine or marking device that is accessible for voters with disabilities, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired.
  • A voter who is unable to receive mail at the place where the voter resides or at another location.

Curbside voting is available for voters who are physically unable to enter a polling location. 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 a.m-7:30 p.m.

See this update on DRO’s blog for more explanation on voting in Ohio’s primary. See the Secretary of State’s voter information page for more details and to request a vote by mail ballot. And finally, voters with disabilities should visit this page for frequently asked questions. 

As we said, COVID-19 has made voting really complicated. 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. #AdvocacyMatters, not just on Election Day, but every day!

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