To the editor,

According to many election experts, the safest ways to vote during this pandemic are: 1) absentee from home, 2) early, in person at the Athens County Board of Elections (BOE) and 3) at the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. If you need to register to vote, check your registration, or update your registration address, please go to www.vote.org

If you plan to vote absentee, submitting your absentee ballot application now will give the BOE more time to process applications and ballots; that will avoid swamping staff in the days before the election. So help out our hardworking friends at the BOE and submit your absentee ballot application in August or early September.

To request an absentee ballot application form, download one from https://www.boe.ohio.gov/comoh/Absentee_Request_11-A.pdf , pick one up at a public library, send the BOE an email request, or call the BOE at 740-592-3201. Thanks to the over 2,000 Athens County residents who have already submitted their absentee ballot applications; you have all helped our election to run more smoothly.

With postal delays occurring, once you receive your absentee ballot, please try to mail it back as soon as possible. To increase the odds that your vote will arrive in time and be counted, consider filling out your ballot as soon as you receive it and putting it right back in the mail the same or the next day.

It would be even quicker to submit your ballot — your application, too — in the secure ballot drop box, located behind the BOE (15 S. Court Street) by the picnic tables. The BOE and Mayor Steve Patterson are working to put a secure ballot drop box near the curb in front of the Courthouse; drivers could just slow down and drop in their ballots. That drop box should be installed by Oct. 6.

Early, in-person voting is planned to start on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at the BOE. In the unfortunate event that any BOE staff members get the virus, the office would have to close for a week for deep cleaning, which could affect people’s ability to vote early. So if you plan to vote early in person, consider doing that closer to the start of the early voting period.

For details on how to submit your absentee ballot application and for the Athens County early in-person voting dates and times, visit: https://www.boe.ohio.gov/athens/.

Beth Clodfelter

Athens City Councilmember

Athens, Ohio

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