COLUMBUS – With six days until Election Day, Ohioans continue to vote early in record numbers. Already 2.2 million Ohioans have cast their ballot for the 2020 general election. After all the votes were counted in 2016, 1.9 million Ohioans voted early in-person or by mail. Two and a half times the number of Ohioans are voting early in-person compared to the same time in 2016.
Additional analysis of the data indicates that absentee ballots are being returned at a rate that drastically outpaces that of 2016. 1,432,126 absentee ballots have already been returned to county boards of elections. In 2016, that number was essentially half that with just 766,017 absentee ballots returned. The doubling of the number of returned absentee ballots relative to 2016 is a very strong indicator that election mail is moving quickly and Ohioans are easily able to cast their ballots.
Absentee ballot requests increased by 430,458 to a total of 3,173,586 requests received by county boards of elections statewide. The total absentee ballots requested includes 25,653 requests from military and overseas voters. At the same time during the 2016 election, 1,594,220 absentee ballots had been requested. 840,644 outstanding absentee ballots have not yet been returned to their county board of elections.
Ohio voters enjoy more hours for early in-person voting than voters in 43 other states. So far this year, 743,130 Ohioans have voted early in-person. For comparison, at the same point in 2016, 288,865 voters had visited their early vote center to cast their ballot. In-person voting continues every day through election day, including the weekend.
“Each week it’s a new record – and that’s because enthusiastic voters are taking advantage of Ohio’s convenient voting opportunities which are some of the best in the nation,” said LaRose. “With seven days to go, if you’re one of the 841,000 voters who haven’t returned your ballot yet, the time is now to mail it in. That’s the surefire way to ensure your vote will be a part of the results the nation sees on election night.”
All absentee ballots received by the county board of elections by the close of polls on Nov. 3 will be included in the unofficial vote totals released on election night. Outstanding ballots that are postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by the county board of elections within 10 days after the election will be included in the final official results that are released in late November. Every properly cast ballot will be counted. Boards of Elections must contact and can help voters correct any issues with their respective ballot up until the seventh day after the election. The Ohio Secretary of State must certify the election by Nov. 28.
Of the 42 states that run a traditional absentee voting system, a comprehensive review by the Brookings Institute determined no state does it better than Ohio. SOURCE: www.brookings.edu/research/voting-by-mail-in-a-pandemic-a-state-by-state-scorecard/.
Ohioans can learn more about absentee voting at VoteOhio.gov.
Voters should consider these best practices when they choose the absentee ballot option:
• Fill in the information properly. Review the form to ensure you have filled it out properly, including writing your date of birth where required, not the day’s date, as well as signing your request form.
• Include your e-mail and/or phone number. For the first time in a general election, county board of elections will be calling or e-mailing voters who may need to remedy information on their ballot request form or absentee ballot envelope. Including your information will ensure you can be reached if your ballot request doesn’t have everything filled out properly.
• Don’t wait. To accommodate necessary processing time at the county board of elections and the time required for the United States Postal Service to deliver elections mail, voters should not procrastinate – fill out and mail your absentee ballot request as soon as possible.
• Double check your return envelope. Before you submit your ballot request form, make sure the envelope is addressed to your county board of elections.
• Track your ballot. Once their ballot request is received by their county board of elections, voters may track their ballot at VoteOhio.gov/Track. As long as your ballot is postmarked by the day before the election and received within 10 days after the election at your county board of elections, your vote will be tabulated.
Absentee voting in Ohio is time-tested and has strong security checks in place.
• Ohioans have utilized absentee voting for nearly two decades, and that has allowed Ohio to put in place both the laws and processes necessary to make absentee voting secure against fraud.
• Voter identification and signature are checked twice during the process.
• Voter list maintenance allows for accurate voter rolls.
• Ballot harvesting is against the law in Ohio.
• Voters are able to track their ballot on VoteOhio.gov/Track.
These requirements and processes, as well as strict laws against voter fraud, have made absentee voting secure in Ohio and instances of voter fraud exceedingly rare.
Holding the United States Postal Service accountable
During the primary, the USPS committed to implementing the following protocols at the urging of Secretary LaRose. These improvements continue for the November election and are helping to quickly deliver election mail:
Staff will recheck collection bins each day to ensure late arriving ballots are retrieved.
• USPS will set up hand-to-hand delivery for election mail as it makes its way through processing on the Saturday prior to Election Day, from the board of elections to the distribution center.
• Postal facilities will track election mail deliveries to Ohio’s boards of elections.
• Election mail will not be routed through the Detroit Regional Distribution Center. Instead it will be kept in-state.