Voters wanting to cast an absentee ballot by mail in the May 3 primary election should request their ballot now to give themselves ample time to fill it in and mail it back.
Or if you want to vote early in-person, mark your calendar for April 5. That’s when early voting starts at local boards of election.
Early and absentee voting gained popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. In November, 377,399 Ohio voters cast absentee ballots or voted early, including 172,886 who voted early in-person. This was a 17.8% increase over the 2019 election, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
Brian Sleeth, president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials and director of the Warren County Board of Elections, said he expects continuing popularity of absentee ballots and early voting.
“I think it’ll be about the same as it has been the last couple primaries,” he said.
Early in-person voting at local elections offices starts April 5 and runs through the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day. Election officials say lines are typically very short or nonexistent the first few weeks of early voting.
Sleeth urged voters requesting absentee ballots to include a phone number and email address where they can be reached if an election worker has a question.
Election officials also remind voters to make it clear which party’s ballot they want for a partisan primary, or if they want an issues-only ballot.
Ohio does not allow absentee ballots to be requested online. You can download and print an absentee ballot application at VoteOhio.gov, or call your board of elections to have one mailed to you. This newspaper will also print an absentee ballot application in the Sunday, April 3, newspaper that you can cut out, fill in and mail to your local elections board.
Local elections boards will begin mailing out ballots April 5. You can track the status of your ballot request online.
Elections officials say to get the request in as early as possible to allow time for your request to get through the mail, the ballot to come back to you in the mail, and your voted ballot to get back to the board of elections in time.
Once you fill out your ballot, you can drop it off or mail it back to your local board of elections. Mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than the day before Election Day and received by the board of elections no later than 10 days after the election to be counted.
Voted ballots can also be returned to the board of elections in person no later than 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
Ohio General Assembly races won’t be on the May 3 ballot because of ongoing disputes about district boundaries. Some have called for pushing back the primary to include these races instead of having two primaries. But Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has told elections officials to plan to have a May 3 primary that will still include other statewide and local races.
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