Voting in Shelby County’s Nov. 6 general election is underway and voting has never been easier! Let me first tell you about Ohio’s ‘Absentee Voting by Mail.’ Did you know that a government employee will come to your home, pick up your absentee voting application and deliver it right to the Board of Elections office? It’s true! Once your absentee application is processed (normally the same day), another government employee will deliver your ballot directly back to your home address. Then, whenever you are ready, the same or another government employee will pick up your secret ballot and transport it back to the Board of Elections for processing and counting on Election Day. That’s how Ohio’s absentee voting works and it’s all accomplished through the U.S. mail and our friends at the U.S. Postal Service. You never have to leave your home to vote. What a convenience, and what a great deal!
For a more personal experience, you can cast your ballot in two other ways. ‘Early In Person Voting’ can be completed at the Shelby County Board of Elections office during regular and special extended hours through 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5. If you arrive at the Board of Elections office for early in person voting you will be asked to complete an absentee application so that your eligibility can be established. Eligibility is established by you furnishing identification such as a government issued photo ID, military ID, utility bill with correct name and address, bank statement with correct name and address, government check with correct name and address, or paycheck with correct name and address. Once your eligibility is out of the way, you will be handed a ballot an can vote right there in the Board of Election office. Voila! In and out in 10 minutes! Finally, you can always cast your ballot on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 6, at your designated polling place. Polling places are assigned based on your residence address. Yes, voting is easy in Shelby County!
Preparation for this election has been ongoing on at your Board of Elections office for months. We have been ensuring voter registrations are up to date, eligible candidates appear correctly on the ballots, issues and levy language meet standards set forth by the Ohio Revise Code, cyber security measures are current, ballots are printed and allocated to each precinct, and last but not least, training and retraining of precinct election officials (previously called poll workers) has been completed.
At your Board of Elections, we use these training sessions not only to update precinct election officials on policy and procedures, but to identify where those election officials find it difficult to ensure your voting experience is efficient, matter of fact, and positive.
Without question, most difficulties resulting in a less than positive experience for a voter revolve around voter eligibility and how questions regarding eligibility are handled on the spur of the moment at the polling place on election day.
Although rare, there are instances where your voting eligibility may be questioned at your polling place. Those instances could include you simply not being registered to vote in Shelby County, your current name or address not matching the Board of Elections registration records, you could be at the wrong precinct, or, maybe you have not voted in quite a while and your records were deactivated using Ohio’s standard registration record procedures.
Regardless of the reason, there are two actions you can count on. First, you will never be denied the opportunity to vote, and second, we will never squabble about your eligibility at the polling place. So how can we commit to this? The answer is Ohio’s ‘provisional’ voting process. Provisional voting is a fail-safe which allows a voter whose identity and or eligibility is in question to go ahead and cast a ballot on the spot. Verification of your eligibility is then completed by the Board of Election after Election Day but before the election is certified. If you are asked to vote provisionally, you will receive the same ballot as everyone else in the precinct except your ballot will be sealed in its own privacy envelope. That sealed envelope is not available to the press or public and will only be opened and your votes counted once your eligibility to vote as been determined. If, for some reason, you are determined ineligible, your ballot will remain sealed indefinitely.
We are ready and now is your chance to have a voice and a choice! In Shelby County all your options are available to you. Vote early, vote absentee, or vote in person on Nov. 6. There is no reason not to!
The writer is the director of the Shelby County Board of Elections.