BY KAYLEE DUFF
Election Day (November 6) is a month away, which means it’s the perfect time to study up on voting.
EVERY VOTE COUNTS. Vote before or on Election Day to make your voice heard! Register to vote before October 9, online or in-person at your county’s board of elections.
Our editor talked with Edward Leonard, from the Franklin County Board of Elections, as he answered some frequently asked questions about voting, ballots and the election. [Note: while Ed answers the questions with Franklin County in mind, voting laws, rules and regulations are statewide. Each county’s Board of Elections office have similar information on their websites. When in doubt, check out MyOhioVote.com!]
Kaylee: Who all can vote in Ohio?
Ed Leonard: You are qualified to register to vote in Ohio if you meet all the following requirements:
- You are a citizen of the United States.
- You will be at least 18 years old on or before the next general election.
- You will be a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days immediately before the election in which you want to vote.
- You are not incarcerated (in jail or prison) for a felony conviction under the laws of Ohio, another state or the United States.
- You have not been declared incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court.
- You have not been permanently denied the right to vote for violations of the election laws.
When is the deadline to register to vote, and what are the different ways someone can register?
The deadline to register to vote for the 2018 General Election is Tuesday, October 9th. The Franklin County Board of Elections will be open until 9:00 p.m. on Oct. 9th to receive registrations. Voter can register or update their voter registration online at myohiovote.com.
Where can a voter find their polling location?
That information can be found online at vote.franklincountyohio.gov or by calling 614.525.3100.
On voter registrations, what are the different “districts,” “precincts,” and “wards?” How do those affect someone’s ballot?
The combination of contests that a voter might see on their ballot depends on where they live. Where you live determines what school district, what municipality or township, what state house, state senate and congressional district you vote in. In the upcoming November 6th General Elections, all voters will see the same statewide races for Governor & Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Senate, Auditor of State, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer. However, depending on where a voter lives, that voters will see different contests depending upon which State House of Representative district they live in as well as which State Senate District and Congressional district. Some voter may see levy or bond issues on the ballot depending upon the municipality or school district in which they live.
What types of ID should be brought to the polls?
The most common forms of ID are:
- An unexpired Ohio Driver’s License (with present or former address so long as the voter’s present residential address is printed in the official list of registered voters for that precinct)
- Federal or State of Ohio photo ID
- Military ID
- Current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck (original or copy) with the voter’s name and present address
What should a voter do if they work on Election Day?
A voter can vote absentee by mail or in-person. A Franklin County voter can call 614.525.3470 to request an absentee form or can print a form online at vote.franklincountyohio.gov/absentee. A signed request to vote absentee by mail can be submitted any time before the election, but will be accepted no later than noon on the Saturday before Election Day.
The In-Person Early Vote Center is located at 1700 Morse Road, Columbus, OH 43229. In-Person Early voting begins Oct. 10th. The last day to vote in-person absentee at the Board of Elections offices is the Monday before Election Day.
Can someone vote if they’re homeless? How can they register?
If a person is homeless, their residence is that place in which their habitation is fixed and to which, whenever the person is absent, the person has the intention of returning. A residence does not have to be a house or apartment. If a person does not have a fixed place of habitation, but has a shelter or other location at which the person has been a consistent or regular inhabitant and to which the person has the intention of returning, that shelter or other location shall be deemed the person’s residence for the purpose of registering to vote. If that person has the ability to contact the board of elections, staff will be able to assist that person in getting registered to vote.
What sorts of accommodations are at polling locations for those who are differently abled or disabled?
The Franklin County BOE inspects all its locations to ensure handicapped accessibility. In some locations, the BOE drops off signage and other equipment that ensures accessibility at locations that might otherwise be ADA compliant. The voting machines themselves have the capability to be set for those with visual impairments or who must vote them a wheelchair. Additionally, any voter can bring someone to the polls to assist them in casting their ballot.
What are the different ways that someone can vote?
A voter can vote in-person at their polling location on Election Day. A voter may also vote absentee in-person at the Board of Elections office during the 28-day period before Election Day (begins Oct. 10th).
What’s early voting and how does a voter sign up for it? What’s an absentee ballot? Does a voter have to qualify for absentee voting?
Early Voting is just another way of saying absentee voting, which can be done either by mail or in-person. A voter does not need to have a reason for qualifying to vote absentee (as was the case prior to 2006).
What is a provisional ballot?
A provisional ballot is a method of permitting someone to vote where there might be an unresolved question regarding the eligibility of that person to vote. Casting a provisional ballot allows the voter to cast their vote and count that vote, if the eligibility issue is resolved favorably. The most common example of provisional voting is where a registered voter moved within their home county or from another county without updating their voter registration to their new address. In that instance, the BOE confirms that the voter is in fact registered at their old address and did not vote in their old voting location. If that all checks out, the provisional ballot is counted.
Where can a voter find a ballot or sample ballot before voting?
The Board of Election website allows a voter to view and print a sample ballot of the contests and candidates based upon that voter’s address. That website is vote.franklincountyohio.gov/search/.
The political parties also issue sample ballots listing the names of the candidates and issues the political parties endorse or support.
How can comprehensive information about each candidate and issue be found prior to voting?
The League of Women Voters and Columbus Dispatch have online voter guides that contain information about candidates and issues, often submitted directly by the candidates and issue groups.
Why should someone check their voter registration before the deadline to register, even if they believe they are registered to vote?
It is never a bad idea to double-check your voter registration online prior to the registration deadline to ensure that everything is correct. This is particularly true if a voter has moved since the last time they may have voted. In that case, your voter registration needs to be updated.
What should a registered voter do if they go to the polls and are told they are not registered?
First thing to do in that situation is to confirm with the poll worker that that the information entered on the electronic poll pad is correct. Second, confirm with the poll worker that you are in the right voting location. The poll worker should be able to look up a voter to determine if the voter should be voting at different location (and where that location is located). Even if you have voted in that same location for years, your precinct may have been re-assigned to a new location. While poll workers can allow a voter to cast a provisional ballot at the wrong location, that ballot will not be counted. Voter can always call the Board of Elections at 614.525.3100 from the polls on Election Day to confirm their correct polling location.
Is it legal for voters to take and post a picture of themselves and their ballot?
While a voter can take a picture of themselves voting, the photo should not contain any image of the actual selections that the voter has made. Ohio law prohibits a voter from taking a picture of their ballot or the selections made on their ballot.
Does a voter have to vote for everything on a ballot?
A voter does not have to vote for everything on the ballot. Voters can choose which contest to vote for and which contests to leave unselected.
Who should voters contact with questions about voting, ballots, or the upcoming election?
Voters can always contact their local board of elections with any questions. Franklin County can be reached at 614.525.3100 or vote.franklincountyohio.gov. The Ohio Secretary of State also maintains a resource for various questions at myohiovote.com.
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