OHIO — The general election is right around the corner, and with the coronavirus looming, you may have some questions about how the polls will operate this year. Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers, full of links and important information for everything you need to know.
When is Election Day?
There can be elections all throughout the year.
- Nov. 3, 2020: General Election
Where do I register or check my voter registration status?
You can register to vote at voteohio.gov.
If you prefer to vote by mail, you can also print out a form at the Ohio Secretary of State's website. You can also download a voter registration application from the Ohio Secretary of State's website. You will need print the form out, fill it out, and make sure you sign it before you send it. You can mail it to the following locations: County Board of Elections, the Secretary of State's office, a state or local office of a designated agency, the office of the registrar or any deputy registrar of motor vehicles, a public high school or vocational school, a public library or the office of a county treasurer.
You can also check your registration through Ohio's voter lookup tool at the Ohio Secretary of State's website by clicking here.
What’s the deadline to register before an election?
New voters must register to vote 30 days before the election they wish to vote in. This is the deadline to register to vote in Ohio before November:
- General Election: Oct. 5, 2020
If you don’t know if you are registered to vote, or if your registration is valid, be sure to check with your county’s elections supervisor.
How do I find where I go to vote?
You can find your voting precinct location by going to the Ohio Secretary of State's office. They have a polling location tool here.
How do I know who my representatives are?
Once you figure out your precinct, the county will be able to tell you which districts you are in, and who your representatives are. As for those running for specific district races, you can find information on the candidates here.
I have to change my address. Do I have to do this before Election Day?
No, you can change your address even at the polling place on Election Day. However, it’s better that you do it beforehand so you know you are going to the right polling place.
How can I get an absentee ballot and when is it due?
Mail-in ballots (AKA absentee ballots) can be requested up to the week before they are due. The ballot is due at the supervisor of elections office for your county by 7 p.m. on Election Day. You can mail it to your supervisor's office, or you can hand deliver it to you supervisor's office.
In some counties, you should be able to drop it off in special drop boxes at any early voting polling place. These boxes will not be available on Election Day.
You can request an absentee ballot by following this link. There, you will need to download an absentee request form and fill out the information needed. You will then mail it to your local county board of elections. Soon after, you will receive an absentee ballot in the mail.
How does early voting work?
Some elections have an early voting period. Dates and times for early voting can vary from county to county.
For Ohio, early in-person voting will begin on Oct. 6 this year, as set by the Secretary of State’s Office. Almost every county offers early voting at the local Board of Elections except Lucas, Summit and and Miami.
If I work on Election Day and want to vote, does my boss have to give me time off?
Not necessarily. In Ohio, it's up to your boss. But according to Ohio law, employers are not allowed to threaten termination or any other form of punishment if you request a reasonable amount of time off to go vote.
I am not affiliated with a political party. So I register independent in Ohio, right?
No. In Ohio, if you wish to not be affiliated with a political party, you should request a Official Questions and Issues Ballot for the primaries. There is an independent party in Ohio. However, if you were to fill out a Democratic or Republican ballot for the primaries, that doesn't limit your options for future elections. You can vote for whatever candidate you choose.
Why are cities able to hold elections on days other than Election Day?
Some municipalities have chosen to hold their elections at different times of the year. It is up to each city or town to decide on its own when to hold elections. Those elections are usually set within the municipality's charter. But since these elections are not on a major Election Day, fewer people tend to know about them.
English is not my primary language. Can I get a ballot in my language?
This depends largely on the county and the demographics of the county. Some counties have ballots available upon request in other languages. Many counties have ballots printed in English and Spanish on one ballot. Check with your county before voting.
What kind of identification do I need to bring?
Bring a current and valid form of picture identification, like:
- Ohio driver's license
- Ohio identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- United States passport
- Military identification
- Student identification
- Retirement center identification
- Neighborhood association identification
- Public assistance identification
If you do not have a proper identification, you can still vote, but you will vote a provisional ballot. If your ID does not have a signature on it, you may be asked to offer additional fordidates, not even write-ins.
Why are there presidential candidates on my ballot who are not running in the Democratic primary anymore?
County elections officials have to set ballots far in advance to so they can be sent out to people who are overseas, like members of the military. Those ballots can't be changed once they're set. So candidates who have dropped out of the presidential race will be on the ballot in March.
Why is it some incumbent representatives are not listed on my ballot, even though they are up for re-election?
If there’s no opposition, a candidate can win with their own vote. This is not limited to incumbents either. However, all candidates must still qualify to run.
What are the term limits for state/county/local officials?
This varies depending on the government. Four years is a standard term of office. U.S. House and Florida House representatives must run for re-election every two years. Not every office is term-limited though.
Are all elections partisan elections?
No. Many municipal and county elections are not partisan elections, meaning the candidates are not representing any political party and everyone registered can vote in those elections.
Why do some races require a runoff election?
In some non-partisan political races, the winner is determined by a simple majority: whoever gets the most votes wins. However, in some elections, usually municipal elections, the winning candidate has to get 50 percent of the votes plus 1 to be declared the winner. If they don’t, then the top two vote-getting candidates engage in a runoff.
Why do some elections require a recount of votes?
If the voting percentage between the top two candidates is less than one-half of one percent, a recount is automatically triggered.
What is a provisional ballot?
If there is a question about your voter eligibility, such as not having valid identification, you may be asked to vote with a provisional ballot. This allows you time to either prove your eligibility yourself (up to two days after the election), or allows the local election canvassing board to verify your eligibility.
How is the order candidates are listed on the ballot decided?
The order in which the candidates are listed is chosen according to the party of the person who won the last gubernatorial election.