Early voting has started in Ohio. Here’s what you need to know

Long lines greeted voters at the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, as early voting began for last year's November general election. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF
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Long lines greeted voters at the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, as early voting began for last year's November general election. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

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Early voting in Ohio started on Oct. 5 for the Nov. 2 general election, both for in-person and absentee voting by mail.

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All in-person early voting will take place at each county’s board of elections office. Early voting will be open the same hours statewide:

• 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, until Oct. 22;

• 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 25 to Oct. 29;

• 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30;

• 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31; and

• 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1.

Nov. 1 is the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots. They may be returned in person to your local board of elections office until 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2. Absentee voting for members of the military and people overseas began Sept. 17.

The deadline for voter registration was Oct. 4.

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In general, county election officials expect better turnout than in the spring 2021 primaries, but not approaching the historic totals seen in the November 2020 general election. Area election officials hope turnout this fall might reach 30%.

They anticipate voters’ liking for mail-in ballots or in-person early voting, driven initially by COVID-19 restrictions, will continue.

No changes are expected to in-person voting procedures: Face masks aren’t mandated, but are generally suggested and will often be available. Other COVID-19 precautions will remain in place.

On ballots in the Miami Valley area are city, township and county offices, local issue questions and local tax levies.

Long lines greeted voters at the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, as early voting began for the November general election. Early in-person voting in the state lasts until Nov. 2 and absentee ballots can be dropped off at the board office until Election Day, which is Nov. 3. In Montgomery County, registered voters can cast their ballot at the board of elections located at 451 W. Third St. in Dayton. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF
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Long lines greeted voters at the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, as early voting began for the November general election. Early in-person voting in the state lasts until Nov. 2 and absentee ballots can be dropped off at the board office until Election Day, which is Nov. 3. In Montgomery County, registered voters can cast their ballot at the board of elections located at 451 W. Third St. in Dayton. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

There are 14 write-in candidates for races in Montgomery County, Board of Elections Director Jeff Rezabek said. None are countywide races, so no voters will have all of them as options. But write-in candidates are expected to win at least seven local races because there aren’t enough certified candidates to fill all available seats.

According to data provided by Sarah Greathouse, deputy director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, those races are:

· West Carrollton Council: four available seats, with three regular candidates and two write-ins;

· New Lebanon Council: three available seats, with two regular candidates and one write-in;

· Clay Twp. fiscal officer (unexpired term): one seat available, one write-in candidate

· Harrison Twp. fiscal officer (unexpired term): one seat available, one write-in candidate;

· Dayton Board of Education: four seats available, three regular candidates, four write-in candidates;

· West Carrollton Board of Education: three seats available, two regular candidates, three write-in candidates; and

· Jefferson Twp. Board of Education: three seats available, one regular candidate, two write-in candidates.

Each polling place will have a list of official write-in candidates that voters can ask to see, Rezabek said. The list is also available online at www.mcsafevoting.com behind the “2021 November candidates” button under the Elections/Current Election tab.

On a paper ballot, voters should fill in the oval next to the write-in blank, then write in the person’s name exactly as it appears on the official list.

On an electronic voting machine, voters can tap the write-in option on the screen. They will get a touchscreen keyboard where they can enter the candidate’s name exactly as it appears on the official list, then press the green “accept” button.

A number of people came to the Montgomery County elections office Monday morning to make sure they were registered at the right address, Rezabek said. Absentee ballot requests are still coming in.

“Everything is looking great,” he said.

Information on absentee ballots and all other voting questions can be found at the Ohio secretary of state’s elections webpage, www.ohiosos.gov/elections, or from each county’s board of elections.