Making Democracy Work

Voting Facts

Eligibility

Registration

Absentee Voting

On Election Day

Provisional Voting

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Eligibility

Who may register to vote in Ohio?

You are qualified to vote if:
  • You are a citizen of the United States
  • You are at least 18 years old on or before the day of the general election.
  • If you will be 18 on or before the November election date you are eligible to register to vote and participate in the primary election, even though you may be 17 at the time of the primary election. You may vote in the primary election for candidates only, but not on issues.
  • You will be a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days before the election.
  • You register to vote at least 30 days before the election.

How is residence determined?

By law your residence is the place to which, wherever you are absent, you have the intent to return. Leaving for temporary purposes, such as military service or school does not result in a change of residence for voting purpose, unless you register in the area where you are currently residing.

Can a student vote from his/her school address?

Yes if a student regards that place as his/her residence and registers to vote. Otherwise, the student must vote in his/her home community if registered.

Can a prisoner vote in Ohio?

Persons convicted of a misdemeanor may vote, even if incarcerated at the time of the election. Persons convicted of a felony and incarcerated lose the right to vote. When discharged, granted probation, parole, or pardoned, their voting rights are restored. In some instances, these persons need to reregister to vote.

Does everyone have to be registered?

Yes, except for members of the armed forces serving on active duty. Their spouses and dependents are also exempt if they have left Ohio to be near the service member.

Registration

Where may I register in person?

Voter registration in Ohio may be completed:
  • At the office of any Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
  • At any county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office.
  • At branch registration offices or locations established by a board of elections.
  • At any public high school or vocational school.
  • At offices of designated agencies which provide public assistance or disability programs.
  • Public libraries
  • County treasurer's office.

How do I register by mail?

You may request a registration form from a board of elections or the Secretary of State's office by mail, telephone, in person or by having another person obtain it for you. After completing the form, return it to the board of elections or Secretary of State's office by mail. Mailed registration forms sent to a county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office must be postmarked 30 days before an election to be valid for the election.

Registration forms not mailed in must be received by a board of elections, the Secretary of State's office, office of any Bureau of Motor Vehicles or designated agencies 30 days before an election to be valid for that election.

Do I declare a political party when I register?

No, under Ohio law, your party affiliation is determined by the ballot you vote in a primary election.

What if I change my address or name?

If you are now registered and move within the state or same county or change your name, you must report the change to the board of elections. You may report the change:
  • By mail on a registration form
  • At the board of elections, at a branch registration office established by the board or at the office of the Secretary of State.
  • At the office of any Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
  • At offices of designated agencies which provide public assistance or disability programs.
  • By completing the notice of change in voting status and filing with the court when you apply for a marriage license or when your name is changed by court order.

When is the registration deadline?

Mailed forms sent to a county board of elections or the Secretary of State office must be postmarked 30 days before an election to be valid for the election.

Forms not mailed in must be received by a board of elections, the Secretary of State's office, office of any Bureau of Motor Vehicles or designated agencies 30 days before an election to be valid for that election.

What about changes after the deadline?

If you change your name, move within your precinct, or move from one precinct to another in you county, you may report the change and vote by appearing at the board of elections during absentee voting period; or on election day you may go to the polling place in the precinct in which you reside, the board of elections, or site designated by the board.

If you move from one county to another in the state, you may report the change and vote at the board of elections in the county in which you now reside during the absentee voting period, or on election day at the board of elections or site designated by the board.

Absentee Voting

Who may vote by early/absentee ballot?

Any registered voter in Ohio may request an Absentee Ballot.

How do I apply for an absentee/early ballot in person or by mail?

A form is available from your county board of elections for convenience, but is not required. If you choose not to use the form, write or go to the board of elections in your county and request an absentee ballot, giving the following information:

- Your name and voting residence, Date of birth, Phone number and ONE of the following:
Driver's license number OR
Last four digits of your Social Security number OR
A copy of a valid photo ID OR
A current utility bill,bank statement,government check, paycheck or other government document that has your name and address listed.
- The election for which you are requesting a ballot.
- Your party choice if the election is a primary OR that you want an issues-only ballot.
- The mailing address to which you want your ballot sent.
- Your written signature.

How do I request an absentee ballot online?

What is the deadline to request absentee ballots?

You may mail your properly completed absentee ballot application bearing your original signature to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located beginning January 1 or 90 days before the date of an election, whichever is earlier.
  • The board must receive your request by noon of the third day before the election (usually a Saturday).
  • You should submit your request as far in advance of the election as possible to ensure there is sufficient time for the board to mail you a ballot and for you to timely return that ballot.
  • In the case of medical emergencies, the absentee ballot request deadline is 3 p.m. on election day. To be eligible under this provision, you must be confined in a hospital because of a medical emergency that occurred not more than 6 days before the election.

What is the deadline to turn in an absentee ballot?

All voted absentee ballots must be received at the board of elections by 7:30 p.m. on election day in order to be counted. Voters should request an absentee ballot as early as possible in order to meet the return deadline.

Exception: Ballots mailed out of the country will be counted if received by the board up to 10 days after election day, if post-marked by election day.
A close relative may deliver and return you ballot if you so request and state the relative's name and relationship on the application, or representatives of the board of elections can be requested to deliver the ballot.

Who may vote using the armed service absentee ballot?

If you are serving in the US armed forces on active duty outside the state, you, your spouse, and dependents may vote by an armed service absentee ballot if you otherwise meet the requirements for voting in Ohio. Your spouse and dependents may vote by an armed service absentee ballot only if they left Ohio to be with you.

Are there changes to the election law for 2014 pertaining to absentee voting?

Senate Bill 405, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Kasich in February prohibits any government official other than the Secretary of State from sending unsolicited absentee ballot application forms. It also requires that every field on the absentee application be filled out completely or it will be rejected. In addition, every field on the absentee ballot envelope must be filled out completely or it will be rejected.

What is the voting residence of a service member?

That place where you resided when you first entered the service, unless you later established a voting residence elsewhere in Ohio.

Must armed service absentee voters register?

No.

How do I apply for an armed service absentee ballot?

You, your spouse, or a close relative may request the board of elections to mail a ballot to you. Applications may be made in person or by mail. An Ohio application form or a federal post card application may be used for convenience, but neither is required; however all mail requests must include the following information:
Your name and voting residence.
A statement that you are serving in the US armed forces on active duty or are the spouse or dependent of a service member.
The election for which a ballot is requested.
Your party choice if the election is a primary or that you want an issue-only ballot.
The mailing address to which you want your ballot sent.
Signature of person requesting ballot.

On Election Day

Where Do I Vote?

The address is on your voter's card. Can't find your card? Call the: Board of Elections at 632-7000, or visit their website or call the League of Women Voters at 281-8683 or visit LWV's vote411.org.

When are the polls open?

6:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

What do I need to bring with me?

You will be asked to provide proof of identity before voting. You may use a current and valid photo identification card, (for example your driver's license), military ID, copy of a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or government document showing your name and current address. (Note: You cannot use the notice the Board of Elections mailed to you.) If you do not show the required proof of identity, you may cast a provisional ballot. (See below Provisional Ballot Info)

What do I do when I get to the polling place?

  • Go to the precinct listed on the card you received from the Board of Elections. For example -- Cincinnati 6-C. (Some polling places have more than one precinct at the same location.)
  • Sign the poll book as directed.
  • You will be given a paper ballot. If you are a new voter in a Primary Election, you may be asked to select a political party affiliation to obtain the correct ballot.
  • Take your ballot to an open polling booth.
  • Using the pen that is provided, completely fill in the box to the left of your choice on the ballot.

How do I establish which party's ballot I am entitled to vote?

Partisan ballots are only used in primary elections. If you are a new voter, you may vote the primary ballot on any political party. If you voted the primary ballot of a political party in previous year(s) and this year want to vote the ballot of another party, then you change your affiliation by signing a statement to that effect when you vote.

May I vote on ballot issues in a primary without declaring my politics?

Yes, you may vote on issues without voting for the candidates of a political party by requesting a questions-and-issues ballot.

May a voter receive assistance in voting?

Hamilton County uses the Hart eScan, an optical/digital scan voting machine. If you are not familiar with its use, ask a precinct official for help.
  • Persons with a physical or mental disability or who do not read in English may be assisted by anyone of their own choice, except for an employer or his/her agent, a union officer or a candidate whose name appears on the ballot.
  • A voter may be assisted by two poll workers of opposing parties. No one who assists a voter may disclose any information about how that person voted.
    YOU MAY ASK A POLL WORKER FOR HELP AT ANY TIME.

Are the polls accessible to people with disabilities?

Polling places are to be free of barriers to disabled persons. Voting accessibility in every polling place is assured. If necessary, election officials belonging to different political parties will provide assistance so that the voter may vote in the vehicle that brought the individual to the polling place, or at the door of the polling place. The Secretary of State's office maintains a phone line to provide information on registration and voting for deaf citizens. The number is TDD (614) 466-0562.
At the polls, voters with visual or manual disabilities may use the Hart Intercivic eSlate electronic voting machine. Visually impaired or infirm voters may ask for help when voting.

What will I see on the ballot?

Ballots list the names of all candidates for an office under the title of that office; the party designation is printed with each name.
  • In the General Election, candidates for judgeships, state or local boards of education, and municipal or township offices appear without party designation.
  • On questions and issues your choice will usually be either: YES or NO; FOR or AGAINST.
  • Candidates and issues are listed on both the FRONT AND BACK of your ballot.

How many candidates should I select?

Make sure you read the directions concerning the number of candidates to vote for in each category. Some offices have "field" races where you may vote for more than one candidate. (For example: you may vote for up to nine candidates for Cincinnati City Council.) Voting for too many candidates can invalidate your vote.

Do I need to vote for every candidate and issue?

You do not have to vote for every office or every issue for your ballot to be counted.

How do I cast my vote?

When you finish voting, take your ballot to the eScan machine and insert it into the ballot feed slot located on the top of the machine. Wait while your ballot is scanned.
  • If your ballot is properly marked the eScan will accept your ballot and display a waving American flag on the screen next to the slot where you inserted the ballot. At this point you have completed the voting process.

What if there's a problem with my ballot?

If there is a problem with your ballot, the machine will not accept it.
An instruction message "Ballot not properly marked" will come up on the screen and the contest that needs attention will be listed. For example: "U.S. Representative Contest is Overvoted." This means you have voted for too many candidates in a particular race. If more than one contest has been marked incorrectly you will see the phrase "Next Contest" at the bottom of the screen with an arrow pointing to a button on the machine. Push the button to see the next contest.
When finished viewing the screen(s), you may remove your ballot from the machine, take it to a poll worker and request a new ballot. OR you may choose to cast your ballot as is by following the instructions on the screen. You may ask a poll worker for help.
When your completed ballot has been accepted, the screen will display a waving American flag and the message will state that your vote has been recorded.

Provisional Voting

What if my registration records are not updated on time?

If voter registration records have not been updated by either the voter or the county board of elections, Provisional Voting allows voters, who would otherwise not be permitted to vote, to cast a ballot and have their registration information later verified.
Provisional Voting also allows voters who have moved within thirty days of an election to vote in their new precinct by completing a simple form.
Recent changes to election law provide that the provisional ballot affirmation form may double as a voter registration form if, upon review, the voter is not on the rolls.
Voters casting provisional ballots should be extra diligent in completing every required field on the form completely to comply with a recent change to the law which calls for rejection of the ballot if not filled out completely.

Who must cast a provisional ballot?

You will be asked to cast a provisional ballot at the polling place for any of the following reasons:
  • Your name does not appear on the official poll list for an election, or an election official asserts that you are not eligible to vote or is unable to determine your eligibility.
  • You are unable or decline to provide the required proof of identity, which includes a current and valid photo identification card, military identification, a copy of utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or government document showing your name and current address. (Note: You cannot use as proof of identification a notice that the board of elections mailed to you.)
  • Your name appears on the poll list or signature book as having requested an absentee ballot.
  • Your name is marked on the poll list or signature book with a notation that registration mailings have been returned as undeliverable.
  • A hearing on a challenge to your eligibility as an elector has been postponed until after Election Day.
  • Your signature, in the opinion of the precinct officers, does not match the signature on your registration form.
  • Your eligibility to cast a ballot has been challenged by the precinct officers, and you refuse to make the required statement.

What happens if I have to vote provisionally because my name does not appear in the polling book or because it appears I am at the wrong address or have an absentee ballot?

  • You will be asked to complete and sign a provisional affirmation statement.
  • You will be asked to provide proof of identity.
  • Your ballot will be stored separately from other ballots.
  • If you provided acceptable proof of identity at the time of voting, you typically do not need to provide any additional information to the board of elections. After the board of elections verifies your eligibility, your ballot will be counted.
  • If you did not provide acceptable proof of identity at the time of voting, you must appear in person at the board of elections to provide such proof within the 10 days immediately following Election Day.

What is acceptable proof of identity?

  • A current and valid photo identification;
  • A military identification;
  • A copy of a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill (including cell phone bill), bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document (but not a voter registration acknowledgement notification mailed by a board of elections) that shows your name and current address (including from a public college or university);

What if I don't have proof of identity with me at the time of voting?

You may vote provisionally and must appear in person at the board of elections to provide such proof within the 10 days immediately following Election Day, in accordance with Ohio law.

If you cast a provisional ballot because, at the time you voted, you had, but declined to provide, an acceptable form of identification and you declined to execute the written affirmation statement swearing to your identity under penalty of election falsification, you must provide to the board of elections one of the forms of acceptable proof of your identity listred above.

If you cast a provisional ballot because, at the time you voted, you did not have any acceptable form of identification, and you declined to execute the written affirmation statement swearing to your identity under penalty of election falsification, you must provide one of the acceptable forms of identification listed above or A signed affirmation statement (provided by the board of elections) stating that you do not have any of the above items.

If you cast a provisional ballot because your right to vote was challenged at the polling place under R.C. 3505.20, and the election officials either determined that you were ineligible to vote or were unable to determine your eligibility, you must provide any identification or other documentation required to resolve the challenge.

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How do I get more information?