Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has announced that all registered voters in Ohio will be receiving absentee ballot applications for the November 6th election in their mailboxes. “This mailing represents an unprecedented move toward uniformity, accessibility and fairness in Ohio’s elections process,” Secretary Husted said. “For the first time voters in all 88 counties will receive an application to vote by mail – turning their kitchen table into a voting booth.” More than 6 million absentee applications were sent out on August 31st. A second supplemental mailing will go out in early October to voters who registered or updated their registrations after August 6th.
This universal absentee ballot application program has drawn bipartisan praise for making the voting more convenient; but it has also drawn some concern for potential downsides. According to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer titled “Absentee ballot plan eases voting but increases risk of voter mistake” by Barry M. Horstman on September 9, 2012, one of the biggest concerns is that voters who request an absentee ballot, but later decide to vote at the polls, will be required to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are used when there are questions in regards to a voter’s eligibility. Sometimes these ballots are disqualified due to minor procedural errors by voters and poll workers. To avoid this potential pitfall, Tim Burke, chairman of both the county elections board and the Hamilton County Democratic Party offers this simple piece of advice. “If you request an absentee ballot, use it. Then you don’t have to worry about any provisional problems.”
People who prefer to vote at the polls can simply ignore the mailing. Those who like the privacy and convenience of voting from home can return the application, along with valid identification, by mail or in person to their local board of elections office. Voters must complete and mail in their application by noon on Saturday, November 3rd. Acceptable forms of ID include the last four digits of your Social Security number, an Ohio driver’s license number, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or other government document. Elections boards will mail back absentee ballots starting Oct. 2nd. To be counted, an absentee ballot must be postmarked no later than Nov. 5th, or dropped off by either the voter or a family member at the board of elections by the close of the polls at 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
Absentee voting offers advantages for voters, election officials, and even the candidates. Voters can cast their ballots at a time that is convenient for them and avoid possible long lines at the polls on Election Day. Early voting gives election officials more time to tabulate the votes and cuts costs by reducing the number of poll workers needed. Since absentee ballot information becomes public record, campaigns can time phone calls and mailers more strategically.
Ohio is the only state besides Oregon and Washington, which vote exclusively by mail, to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. To find out more information about absentee voting in Ohio, as well as information about voter registration, military voting, polling sites, election results, and local election officials, visit the Ohio Voter and Elections Information Directory. There, you can also access links to search for voter records and campaign disclosures as well.
In addition to voter information, the Free Public Records Directory provides links and resources to many other types of public records such as arrest warrants, professional licenses, property assessment records, sex offenders, UCC filings, and more. You can search for information by record type, state, county, municipality, or zip code.