Early voting begins Tuesday in Ohio and registered voters have the option to vote early in person, to request a mail-in absentee ballot or to wait and vote at their precinct on Election Day.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon on Oct. 31, but election and postal officials are urging people not to wait that long if they want their ballot to arrive on time.
As of Tuesday, more than 2 million absentee applications had been received at Ohio’s 88 county election boards, Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said. That included about 24,000 from military and overseas voters, who already have begun to receive ballots.
Monday was the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election, which includes a high-profile contest between Republican President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee.
In Fayette County, the only contested race on the ballot is for Fayette County Sheriff. Leonard E. Sines is running as an independent against the current sheriff, Vernon P. Stanforth, a Republican.
Also for county voters is an EMS three-year, 1.3-mill renewal levy that funds ambulance and emergency medical services in Fayette County.
In Green Township, there is a two-mill, five-year renewal levy for providing and maintaining fire apparatus.
In the Village of Milledgeville, there is a five-year, eight-mill renewal levy for current expenses.
In Madison Township, there is a five-year, 0.9-mill renewal levy for providing fire protection.
In Jefferson Township, there are proposed zoning regulations on the ballot.
Look for stories on these races and issues in upcoming editions of the Record-Herald and online at www.recordherald.com.
“It’s important to remember that there are many opportunities to vote in-person before the election at the board of elections,” said Fayette County Board of Elections Director Beth Ann Snyder.
The board, located at 135 S. Main St. in Washington Court House, will be open for in-person voting during the following hours:
– 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, from Oct. 6 through Oct. 9
– 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Oct. 12 through Oct. 16
– 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Oct. 19 through Oct. 23; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24; and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25
– 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Oct. 26 through Oct. 30; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31; and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1
– 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.
“In Ohio, there are three different ways you can vote,” said Snyder. “You can request a ballot by filling out an application — those have been mailed to you by the Secretary of State, political parties are mailing them, and a couple of other organizations have mailed applications. If you don’t get one, you can call us and we will mail you an application. But in order for a ballot to get to somebody, we have to have an application.
“You can vote at the board of elections early….voting in here is very similar to Election Day. You have your driver’s license or a form of ID, we’ll hand you a ballot, you’ll fill it out, and it will go right in the machine, just like on Election Day. And of course, Election Day is your third way to vote at your polling place.”
Snyder emphasized not to wait until the last minute to request a ballot.
“The last day that we can send any ballot out of our office, by law, is the Saturday before the election at 12,” she said. “But if you wait until then, you have to wait to get it and fill it out, and it has to be postmarked the day before the election.”
Snyder also explained how the application/mail-in ballot process works.
“The process starts with the application,” she said. “Some states have everyone that is registered just gets mailed a ballot. But we don’t do that until you ask for one. We compare the signature on the application, your identification and your address against what we have. Then we mail the ballot to you. After you complete your ballot, you put it in what we call an identification envelope. Again, you have to fill out your name, your address, your birth date, your ID and you sign it. So when it comes back in, we receive it in and we check those things against what we have on file.
“If the ID envelope is missing something, we will send a letter to you letting you know you forgot something, like your ID or if you forgot to sign it. Even if you forget to do one of those requirements, we let you know. And they have so many days after the election to correct that. It will tell you in the letter what you need to do.”
If you prefer to deliver it yourself, you can personally deliver your ballot to the board of elections 24 hours a day from now until 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 3. There is a drop box at the front of the board of elections building.
“We have cameras out there at the drop box 24/7 and it is lit up,” said Snyder.
Absentee ballots are counted on Election night and those will be the first results available for the public to see.
In a column written by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, he wrote: “Over the past several months, hundreds of bipartisan elections officials at 88 county boards of elections have been working overtime to be ready. Over 2,000,000 Ohioans have already requested their absentee ballot, and a whopping 216 hours of early in-person voting is scheduled over the next four weeks. We have recruited more than 46,000 poll workers to ensure Ohio’s nearly 4,000 polling locations will open as scheduled. To keep voters and poll workers safe, extensive health and safety guidelines are in place to ensure that the polls will be open from 6:30am until 7:30pm on November 3.
“A lot of things are different in 2020, but one thing will never change; your vote matters. Elections have simply never been as accessible and secure as they are this year. Voting is safe and we are ready. Now it’s up to you — go vote, Ohio!”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.