There’s still time to vote, but not much

(Posted April 1, 2020)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Time is tight, but Ohioans who have not already cast ballots in the primary election can still do so by mail.

On March 25, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 197, which includes several measures designed to provide emergency relief during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. One of those measures sets April 28, 2020, as the final day of Ohio’s primary election, which was originally scheduled for March 17.

For the vast majority of voters, the only option for this primary election is to vote by absentee ballot through the mail. (House Bill 197 limits in-person voting to individuals with qualifying disabilities and those who do not have a home mailing address, and will take place only on April 28 and only at board of elections vote centers. No precinct polling locations will be open.)

Voting by mail requires voters to fill out and return an absentee ballot application before a board of elections can mail out the actual ballot, which then needs to be filled out and postmarked by April 27 or hand-delivered to the board of elections by 7:30 p.m. April 28.

“We’re up against a tight deadline,” said Tim Ward, director of the Madison County Board of Elections (BOE).

Ward recommends that voters go to the board’s website, boe.ohio.gov/madison/, where they can complete and print out an absentee ballot application. Instructions can be found by scrolling down the home page to the section titled “Absentee Ballot Deadline.”

Other options for requesting an absentee ballot include: stopping by the BOE office to pick up a form (copies can be found in a folder hanging outside on the front door); or sending an email to electionboard@co.madison.oh.us (include your name, mailing address, contact information and number of applications needed). Anyone who does not have a printer or access to email can call the office at (740) 852-9424 and leave a detailed message.

Applications must be mailed or dropped off at the board office: 1423 State Rte. 38, SE, London, OH 43140. They cannot be sent by email.

Absentee ballots must be requested by April 25. Completed absentee ballots must be postmarked by April 27 and received by May 8 or hand-delivered to the dropbox at the back of the BOE office by 7:30 p.m. April 28.

Ward asks that those filling out an absentee ballot application pay close attention to Box 6. Where it asks for the date of the election, they should write “March 17, 2020.” They should check the box marked “Primary.” Those who check the “Political party ballot” box must also write in the name of the political party.

“That is critical,” Ward said of writing in the name of the political party. “So many people have forgotten to do that part of the application.”

The board has to contact anyone who fails to fill out the form completely to let them know what is missing.

Anyone who voted by mail or in person before March 17 does not need to vote again. All ballots already submitted will count, as long as they are otherwise valid. Tabulation of votes will begin after 7:30 p.m. April 28. All ballots postmarked by April 27 and received by May 8 will be counted. Official results will be available by May 19.

For details, go to the BOE’s website, https://www.boe.ohio.gov/madison/. Another good resource is voteohio.gov where Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has posted answers to frequently asked questions about Ohio’s 2020 primary.

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