During the 2020 Primary, millions of absentee ballots around the country were rejected, mainly because of minor errors. So it’s key to fill out and submit your absentee ballot carefully. With thousands of Athens County residents voting absentee in Ohio for the first time (including me) here are some tips to make your ballot count.
Once you have your ballot, please fill out the requested information carefully. Be sure to:
Include your entire driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security Number
Include your date of birth in the appropriate spot
Sign the envelope
Once you have filled it out, please try to submit it as soon as you can. You have two choices for submitting the ballot: using a ballot drop box or mailing it.
Using Drop Boxes — This year in Athens County we have two ballot drop boxes, one near each of the two entrances to the Board of Elections (15 S. Court St.) . The original one is still behind the BOE by the picnic tables. Just walk a little bit down the alley between the BOE and the Courthouse. The new drive-through ballot drop box is located by the curb on the left side of Court Street between the Board of Elections and the Courthouse.
Both drop boxes are well lit and have cameras on them 24/7. If you want to make certain that your ballot is safe, try to drop it off during business hours at the Board of Elections. A team of one Democrat and one Republican will be collecting the ballots from the drop boxes at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. on business days.
Please note that Ohioans are only permitted to submit a ballot for themselves and/or for close relatives. So it is not possible, for example, to collect ballots and put them in the drop box for your neighbors. But you could bring another voter, along with his or her absentee ballot, to a drop box so that the person can vote.
It would be helpful to submit your ballot in one of the drop boxes as soon as you can, but the deadline to use a drop box is when the polls close: 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Mailing your Ballot — To mail the ballot, please try to put your ballot in the mail as soon as you can and no later than at least a week before Election Day, i.e. by Oct. 27. The absolute deadline for mailing your ballot is Nov. 2, the day BEFORE the election.
If for some reason you just can’t mail your ballot until the last few days before the November 2nd deadline, please take your ballot into the post office and ask for them to postmark it to prove that you mailed it by the deadline.
Still voting in person – If you have ordered an absentee ballot and now prefer to vote in person, there are two ways that you can do that, so long as you have not submitted or mailed your absentee ballot:
First, you can go to the Board of Elections (ideally with your ballot) during early vote, let them know that you have not mailed your absentee ballot, and vote early. If you do this during the early voting period you can cast a regular vote.
Second, you can go to the polls on Election Day. In this case you will have to cast a provisional ballot; those have to be reviewed and do not always count.
Thanks for voting in this important elections, Athens County!
Editor’s note: Clodfelter is an Athens City Councilmember.