Back in March when the nation was closing down due to the global pandemic and the future of the Ohio Primary was uncertain, we told you: Keep Calm and Vote on! And now we’re here to tell you: Keep Calm and Vote on… Again! Sure, we’re still navigating so many aspects of the 2020 Covid-19 reality, and some parts of our new normal are challenging and confusing, but voting for the President of the United States, your congressional representative, your state lawmakers, judges, sheriffs, and prosecutors certainly does not have to be. Simply put, there are three ways you can vote this year in Ohio for the General Election, and we’re going to break it down for you! All you have to do is make a voting plan and stick to it (and be sure to have a backup just in case!). As a voter, the three options you have are:
- Absentee/Mail-in Voting
- Early In-Person Voting at your County Board of Elections starting October 6
- In-Person Voting on November 3, 2020
Read below about the requirements and actions you will need to take for each of these options – all the while making sure you take all the measures you need to stay safe and healthy during the era of COVID-19. Before we begin, however, please make sure you’re still registered! With the voter purging last year – and nearly 20% getting wrongfully purged, you may want to check to see if you’re still a registered voter and/or are registered at your current address. You are able to check the Ohio Secretary of State’s website here. You have up to October 5, 2020 to register to vote. You can register to vote online, download the registration form and mail it in or go in-person to your local board of elections, Ohio BMV offices, public high schools, or libraries to register. On another note: We also advise that you make sure you know who is running down-ballot and what their policies are. Like so many others, you might be showing up just to make sure your vote is counted for who you think should be POTUS, but there are a ton of other races that will affect your quality of life. Who you put in the statehouse matters just as much – and perhaps even more, as they are usually the ones who decide what happens to Ohioans specifically. Make sure to do your homework on all those running!
- Let’s begin with absentee voting!
Absentee vote by mail will begin on October 6, 2020 – the day after voter registration ends. After ensuring you’re a registered voter, the first thing you need to do for this option is submit an absentee ballot request form. Make sure to print, sign, and either mail it or physically return the completed form to your county board of elections office. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Saturday, October 31, 2020 @ 12:00PM – however, in order to ensure your request is received by your local board of elections on time, don’t delay! If you want to vote by mail, we strongly recommend you fill out your absentee ballot application today – especially with postal delays and an unprecedented number of Ohioans voting by mail this election. After receiving your ballot in the mail, make sure to read and follow directions carefully before officially voting. Then return your completed ballot by U.S.P.S. or deliver it in person to your county BOE via a secure drop box. Important to note is that the return envelope containing your marked ballot must either be received by your county board of elections prior to the close of the polls on Election Day or postmarked no later than the day before the election and received by the BOE no later than 10 days after the election. Similar to our recommendation above, we recommend allowing at least ten full days for your absentee ballot to be received. Therefore, consider your last day to vote and mail your ballot by Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020.
- Early In-Person Voting
Early in-person voting will also begin on October 6, 2020 and ends the Monday before the election. Additionally, you will be able to vote early during the two weekends before the General Election. Early in-person voting times can be found here – and remember, in order to vote in-person, you must mask up! All registered voters may request and vote in person at their county board of elections or early voting center as designated by the county. Most Ohio counties provide early voting at their local BOE, but Lucas and Summit counties have separate early voting centers. You can find more information on how to vote at your local BOE here. If this is your plan, set a date and time, and stick to it. Allow yourself enough buffer time in case there is a long line, you have trouble finding parking, or any other sort of obstacle that may arise. After setting the date and time, find out the exact address of where you can vote early in your county and make sure you have everything you need to meet the ID requirements to vote before leaving your place of residence. According to the Secretary of State website, Ohio law requires that every voter, upon appearing at the polling place to vote, must announce their full name, current address and proof of identity. All acceptable forms of ID can be found here. Once you have picked your date and time and have adequately prepared yourself, head on in and vote!
- Voting on Election Day
This brings us to Election Day, November 3, 2020. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and you are designated a specific polling location. You can find out your specific polling location here. We suggest you check multiple times since polling locations can be changed and with little notice! Additionally, don’t forget to bring along a mask or two, as you are required to wear a mask in order to vote in-person – and remember: the lines will likely be long, so mentally prepare yourself for that as well. After all, former FLOTUS Michelle Obama had a point when she warned voters might have to pack a lunch – and breakfast too – for when they stand in line. Similar to our voting early suggestions, you should find the exact address of where you can vote, and make sure to have everything you need to meet the ID requirements to vote before leaving your place of residence. According to the Secretary of State website, Ohio law requires that every voter, upon appearing at the polling place to vote, must announce his or her full name, current address and proof of identity. All acceptable forms of ID can be found here. Remember, as long as you are in line by 7:30 p.m. and don’t remove yourself from the line, you will be able to cast your ballot. You have a constitutional right to vote as long as you show up between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3rd. Once you have that plan in motion, go in and vote!
- Beyond the Election
As voters, our job oftentimes goes beyond simply casting a ballot and moving forward. In a country – and world – where a pandemic is ravaging our very notions of a regular, everyday life and a revolution is brewing to combat racist and oppressive institutional systems, we owe more to ourselves and each other to do more. Remember, the fight, especially for our basic human rights and civil liberties, doesn’t just end on Election Day or Inauguration Day – no matter who the mantle is passed to. At the end of the day, issues such as mass incarceration, reproductive freedom, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, etc… will need people like you to remain tuned in and present all year long. So, make your voice heard by casting a vote. Then make your voice heard again and again. Educate others on their rights, volunteer at an organization or become involved in their ranks as an activist (like joining the ACLU of Ohio’s Action Team), sign petitions, and follow and support organizations on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Whatever you do, making your voice – and ensuring other voices are also – heard is something anybody can do. Including you. Remember you and they are the difference and the voices of things yet to come. Begin by casting your ballot this election – and then go on and do more.