Voting is a fundamental cornerstone of American democracy. Every year Ohioans cast votes for candidates of their choice. Citizens often contact my office with questions about the voting process, particularly around election time.
Am I Eligible to Register to Vote?
Ohio law requires voters to be registered for 30 days before casting their ballots. Clients often have questions about who is eligible to register.
To qualify to register to vote in Ohio, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are a citizen of the United States;
- You will be at least 18 years old on or before the date of the next general election. (If you will be 18 on or before the general election, you may vote in the primary election to nominate candidates, but you cannot vote on issues or party central committees until you are 18);
- You have been a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days immediately before the election;
- You are not incarcerated for a felony conviction;
- You have not been declared incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court; and
- You have not been disenfranchised for violating election laws.
Can I Vote If I Have Been Convicted of a Crime?
Yes, as long as you are not currently incarcerated for a felony conviction or prohibited from voting for violating Ohio election laws, you are still eligible to register and vote.
Am I Registered at the Correct Address?
The address where you are registered to vote is important because it determines which regional issues and offices you can vote on such as congressional seats, local government, and school districts.
How Do I Know If I Am Already Registered?
If you are unsure whether you are already registered to vote, you can check your voter registration status by visiting https://voterlookup.ohiosos.gov/voterlookup.aspx or by contacting your local board of elections.
Do I Need My ID to Vote?
If you decide to vote at your local precinct, you will need to bring a valid form of Ohio identification.
Acceptable forms of ID include:
- an unexpired Ohio driver's license or state ID card;
- a military ID;
- an unexpired Ohio or United States photo ID that contains your name and current address; and
- a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document (other than a notice of voter registration mailed by a board of elections) that shows your name and current address and was received in the last 12 months.
If you do not have any of the above forms of identification, you must provide your Ohio driver's license or state identification number or the last four digits of your Social Security number at your precinct to cast a provisional ballot. You can also give the information to your board of elections within 7 days after voting. After the elections board confirms the information, your ballot will be counted.
How Can I Vote in Ohio?
There are several ways to vote in Ohio including in-person voting, early in-person voting, and absentee voting. Although Ohio offers multiple possible methods to vote, each citizen can only cast one ballot per election.
In-person voting is the method that most people are familiar with. It involves showing up at your designated precinct on Election Day and casting your ballot for the candidate of your choice. Your precinct location is determined by the address under which you are registered to vote. If you are unsure where your precinct is located, you can inquire by accessing https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/toolkit/polling-location/ or contacting your local board of elections.
Early In-Person Voting
If you want to vote at your local precinct but you are unable to make it to the polls on Election Day, you still have the option of voting in-person early. Ohio offers citizens the opportunity to vote prior to Election Day. If you are interested in doing so, contact your local election board or the Ohio Secretary of State to check the dates and hours of operation.
Absentee (Mail-In) Voting
In Ohio, voting by mail is called absentee voting. Absentee voting allows Ohioans to vote without showing up in-person at polling stations. Although its use has greatly expanded in recent years, absentee voting in the United States began during the Revolutionary War. Ohio started use of absentee voting during the Civil War. Absentee voting is commonly used by Ohio residents who are currently away from home or unable to travel to the polls such as members of the military, college students, and individuals with mobility issues. However, no excuse is needed to vote absentee in Ohio. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 3 days before the election.
How Do I Complete My Absentee Ballot?
To ensure that your vote is counted, it is important to follow all directions on the ballot carefully. Use a black or blue pen, do not use a pencil. You must fill out all requested information on the identification envelope, including your name, birthday, driver's license or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Do not forget to sign and date the envelope. After filling out your ballot, fold it back into the envelope and seal it. Do NOT tear off the ballot stub. Ballots with the stub removed will be rejected. Put the sealed identification envelope inside the return envelope and seal it again. Your ballot is now ready.
How Do I Cast My Absentee Ballot?
Absentee ballots must be postmarked by the day before the election in order to be counted if sent by mail. Absentee ballots can also be dropped off in-person to your county board of elections before the polls close on Election Day.
What if I Have a Medical Emergency on Election Day?
If you or your minor child is hospitalized for a medical emergency, an absentee ballot may be requested by 3pm on Election Day by submitting a Hospitalized Absentee Ballot Request Form to your county board of elections. The ballot is delivered to the medical facility for you to complete and returned by a member of the board of elections of a designated friend or family member.