With less than five weeks until the presidential election, it is important that all Ohioans have the facts about election procedures so you know what is being done to make Ohio a state where it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat.
FACT: The deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 11, and it is easy to register to vote in Ohio. Voter registration forms are available online at MyOhioVote.com, at libraries and BMV Deputy Registrars. Since 1977, the Ohio Constitution has required that Ohioans register to vote where they live at least 30 days before Election Day in order to cast a ballot. You can mail a completed voter registration form to your county board of elections or drop it off in person. If you are registered and simply need to update your address, you can use a voter registration form or do it online.
We encourage all eligible Ohioans to participate in the upcoming election. For the first time ever, my office mailed information on how to register to vote to more than 1.65 million Ohioans who are eligible to vote, but are not registered.
FACT: Voting is easy and convenient in Ohio. In fact, you don’t even need to leave home to vote.
No-fault absentee voting (by mail or in person) was passed during my tenure as Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in 2005. In 2012, I began the practice of mailing absentee ballot requests statewide. Prior to 2012, only voters in some of our 88 counties received absentee ballot applications in the mail. Those who were not on the list this year had notified the U.S. Postal Service of a change of address (meaning they could not have used the pre-addressed application) or had not voted in several years, including the last two federal elections. Anyone who registered to vote or updated their address after the first mailing will receive an absentee ballot application later this month as a part of a second mailing. If you would like an absentee ballot request and didn’t receive one, applications are available at MyOhioVote.com.
The in-person schedule for the 28-day early voting period for 2016 includes weekday evening hours, two Saturdays and two Sundays. This gives Ohioans the tenth most generous schedule in the nation. For a complete listing of days and hours, as well as the location of your county’s early voting location, go to MyOhioVote.com.
Absentee ballots will be mailed and in-person voting at your local board of elections will begin on Oct. 12.
On Election Day your voting location will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. You can find your assigned polling place, view your sample ballot and get more information at MyOhioVote.com.
FACT: No voter has been purged – the only voters who have been removed are those who have died, requested cancellation after moving out of state, notified a board of elections of a change of address to a different Ohio county, or are no longer eligible to vote under state law. Federal and state law requires us to keep the voter rolls up to date to avoid having deceased and ineligible voters on the rolls. Having clean voter rolls protects your vote and makes Election Day more efficient. From 1981 to 1994, during the terms of two Democratic and one Republican secretaries of state, voter registration was automatically cancelled unless a person voted during a four year period or updated their address. Since 1994, four secretaries of state – both Democratic and Republican alike – have managed the accuracy of the voter rolls using a six-year criteria. No voters were cancelled in 2016 as a result of this long-standing practice. It is easy to check whether or not you are registered to vote by going online at MyOhioVote.com.
FACT: Voter fraud exists, but it’s rare and it’s a fifth degree felony.
The truth is we put safeguards in place to secure the integrity of the election. Keeping the voter rolls up to date is key. We’ve removed more than 515,000 deceased voters and 1.5 million duplicate registrations and we cross-match with other states to identify voters who may have voted in multiple states.
Ohio is an I.D. state, so if you plan to vote on Election Day, please bring a driver’s license, state I.D. or choose from one of the other alternative forms of identification allowed in Ohio.
Election security is a bipartisan process in Ohio. Local boards of elections are made up of two Democrats and two Republicans.
FACT: Every vote matters. Since 2013, 109 elections of candidates or issues have been decided by one vote or tied. Literally one vote has been the difference in mayoral races and school levies, and with 1,804 local issues and countless candidates on the 2016 ballot, close elections are likely to happen this year.
With nearly a month to cast a ballot, Ohio is one of the easiest states in the nation in which to vote. You as an Ohioan can choose from a number of different ways to participate this election season, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Remember, decisions are made by those who show up.
Jon Husted is the Ohio Secretary of State.