Election 2020: Answering reader questions

The Dayton Daily News is answering questions about the November election that our readers submit through a form online at DaytonDailyNews.com.

We will continue providing answers to your questions from now until Election Day, Nov. 3. Here’s the second round that we investigated.

Question: Is there a way to check online to confirm that my mail-in ballot was received and accepted? – Tim Heishman

Answer: Mail-in ballots won’t be sent out until Oct. 6. Voters can track their absentee ballot applications and then their mail-in ballots using their county’s link from this page on the Secretary of State’s website: https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/toolkit/ballot-tracking/.

It’s better to use the county links on the HTML list rather than the clickable map, where this reporter found many of the links not working. This newspaper asked the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to look into fixing the online map.

Several Montgomery County readers, including the two below, asked whether early in-person voting is offered at multiple locations.

Question: When does early voting begin? Are there any other locations than the county building? – Judith Barr

Question: Are there any places to vote early in addition to downtown Board of Elections? – Michael Galamb

Answer: Early voting doesn’t begin in person until Oct. 6 and the only location for Montgomery County residents to vote early in person is at the Montgomery County Board of Elections office in the County Administration Building, according to Jan Kelly, the county’s elections director.

Question: What is the difference between requesting an “absentee” ballot versus one that is universally mailed out to everyone who has ever voted at their last known address? For example, if I lived in a nursing home during the 2016 election, and unfortunately due to COVID-19, I recently passed away, what should the nursing home do, when they receive my universally mailed ballot? - Jeff Bobier

Answer: The state has not and does not mail out universal ballots to everyone, Kelly said.

“The Secretary of State did mail out to all 7.8 million registered voters an application for absentee ballot if the voter would like to receive their specific ballot in the mail,” she said.

If the address of record on a person’s voter registration is at nursing home, the absentee ballot application would have been mailed there, Kelly said. But to request a mail-in ballot, the application would have to be returned with information unique to that individual, including their signature, which would all be checked against the board of elections database.

In addition to date of birth, the information on the absentee ballot request must include one of the following: driver’s license number, last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number, or a copy of current identification, along with a copy of a valid photo identification. If submitting a copy of a valid photo ID or military identification, it must be accompanied by a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document (other than a notice of voter registration mailed by a board of elections) that contains the voter’s name and current address.

Question: Are there any prohibitions against political parties or other groups giving people postage or otherwise helping to mail absentee ballots? - Matt Sauer

Answer: Ohio law likely prohibits this, said Maggie Sheehan, an Ohio Secretary of State spokeswoman.

Generally, it is unlawful for anyone to provide or offer a voter “money or other valuable thing to or for the use of another, with the intent that it or part thereof shall be used to induce such person to vote or to refrain from voting,” according to Ohio law.

“Providing postage could be considered offering a ‘thing of value’ to induce people to vote,” Sheehan said. “Any organization that is thinking about providing postage for absentee ballots should consult with the organization’s legal counsel for guidance.”

Do you have a question about voting? Ask it here and we’ll find the answer.

Election 2020

Count on the Dayton Daily News for everything you need to know this election season. We are the only news source covering all local candidates and issues on your ballot, and digging into a safe and accurate vote.

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