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How to Vote in Ohio's 2020 Election: What You Need to Know

En Espanol | Ohio makes it easy to safely cast a ballot from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, with absentee voting and early in-person voting available for all registered voters:

  • No reason is needed to vote absentee. In fact, Ohio's secretary of state plans to mail absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters beginning around Labor Day.
  • Early in-person voting runs from Oct. 6 through Nov. 2, including some weekends, helping voters avoid crowded Election Day polling places.
  • Incorrect absentee ballots were distributed to an unknown number of voters in Franklin County. Election officials are working to distribute new ballots. Franklin County voters are advised to wait until the new, correct ballots come in the mail. They can also show up to the Franklin County Board of Elections in person during early voting hours to cast an in-person absentee ballot.
A man walks out of an absentee voting station after voting
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Here's what else you need to know:

How do I register to vote?

You can register online, by mail or in person. If you have a valid Ohio driver’s license or state-issued identification card, you can register online at the state's VoteOhio.gov site. If you don't have those IDs, download a registration form, fill it out and mail it to your county board of elections.

Registration forms are also available at any county board of elections office, any Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles location, public high schools and libraries, and various government offices. Find a full list of locations online. You can also register in person at any of those locations.

You must register or update your registration by Monday, Oct. 5, for the Nov. 3 election. You can check your registration information online.

How can I get an absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?

Any registered voter can vote absentee. If you want to fill out an absentee ballot request form before the secretary of state mails them out around Labor Day — or if yours doesn't arrive for some reason — you can download one from VoteOhio.gov and mail it your county board of elections. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail for the November general election is Oct. 31.

County board of elections offices will start mailing out absentee ballots Oct. 6. Completed ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Nov. 2, the day before Election Day. All county board of elections offices also have drop boxes for absentee ballots; you must drop yours by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

How do I know my absentee ballot is secure?

Voting absentee entails multiple checks of a voter’s signature and identifying information before a ballot is counted. The absentee ballot request form must contain a voter’s signature and a copy of photo identification with the voter's current address and the last four digits of his or her Social Security number. The voter's signature and information is checked by the county board of elections to ensure it matches the registration on file.

Once the board reviews the application, the voter will be sent an absentee ballot with an unsealed identification envelope. That envelope also requires the voter’s signature and identification. A board of elections official must examine each returned absentee ballot envelope for eligibility before removing the ballot. You can track your ballot throughout the process online.

When is Election Day? When are polls open?

Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Can I vote before Election Day?

Yes. In addition to voting absentee, voters can vote early in-person from Oct. 6 until 2 p.m. on Nov. 2, the day before Election Day. Most Ohio counties provide early voting at their board of elections office. Lucas, Miami and Summit counties, however, have separate early voting centers.

What form of identification do I need to vote?

In addition to a driver’s license or state or military ID, options include a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other document with your name and current address. Find a full list of acceptable IDs online.

What is being done to make polling places safe from the coronavirus?

Measures include social distancing, personal protective equipment for election workers and the frequent sanitization of surfaces. In July, Gov. Mike DeWine issued an order for everyone in Ohio to wear face coverings in public indoor locations.

Will I be able to vote in the same place as I always have?

Not necessarily. Fewer election workers may mean combining some polling places. And other sites may move for space considerations. Senior centers and nursing homes, which were removed as polling place options for the primary, will remain off-limits in November. Find your polling location online before heading to the polls.

What are the key races in my state?

  • U.S. president
  • U.S. House: All 16 seats
  • State Senate: 16 of 33 seats (even-numbered districts)
  • State House of Representatives: All 99 seats
  • State Supreme Court: 2 of 7 seats

This story was updated on Oct. 8 with new information about absentee ballots in Franklin County. Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this page and check back.

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AARP is urging older Americans to ask the candidates 5 key questions:

  • Just over half of all older Social Security beneficiaries rely on the program for at least 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
  • Half of the people with traditional Medicare spend at least a sixth of their income on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, as well as lower health care costs and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?
  • COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?

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