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HOW DO I REGISTER TO VOTE IN OHIO? | Advocates stress the ease and importance of registering ahead of Oct. 5 deadline

Registering is a simple process that can even be done online as the first step to make sure your vote counts. Read more for a Q&A on who needs to register and how.

LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — Whether you agree or disagree with what President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden had to say in their first presidential debate, it's up to you to register to vote.

Irvin Willis, a Sylvania resident already registered to vote, says the process should only take a few minutes but can have a big impact.

"I appreciate Donald Trump's honesty and like I said, I'm a Republican. So, I mean, everybody isn't perfect," Willis said. 

Right now, people of all parties are strongly advocating for everyone to vote during this presidential election.

"I am registered. I definitely want Trump out. There's (no) 'if', 'and' or 'buts' about it," said Tevin Pullom of Toledo.

"I do think that you should vote," said Chad Pudvan. "And the people that are not gonna because they don't feel either candidate is fit - there's always the third party option." 

But first, you must register in order to make your voice heard.

HOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE

ONLINE OPTIONS

There are multiple ways to register to vote in Ohio. You can register by visiting vote.org or olvr.ohiosos.gov and providing the following information:

  • Ohio driver's license or identification card number
  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Last 4 digits of your social security number

IN-PERSON OPTIONS

You may obtain a voter registration form, and register to vote in person at any of the following locations:

  • The office of the Secretary of State;
  • The office of any of the 88 county boards of elections;
  • The office of the registrar or any deputy registrar of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles;
  • Public libraries;
  • Public high schools or vocational schools;
  • County treasurers' offices; or
  • Offices of designated agencies, including:
    • The Department of Job and Family Services;
    • The Department of Health (including the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program);
    • The Department of Mental Health;
    • The Department of Developmental Disabilities;
    • Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities; or
    • The office of any state-assisted college or university responsible for providing assistance to students with disabilities.

When you have completed your voter registration form, review it carefully for completeness and accuracy. You may either personally deliver, or send by U.S. Mail, your voter registration form to a county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office.

The Ohio Secretary of State's Office also says another person acting on your behalf may deliver your application to one of the offices listed above. 

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU REGISTER

Once you are finished you can check back on either website to see your registration status.

The board of elections must register you to vote not later than 20 business days after receiving your application and promptly mail a notice to your voting residence address confirming that you are registered to vote, identifying your voting precinct and the location of your precinct, and stating the identification requirements for voting.

If you do not receive a notice that your registration was accepted or rejected, contact your county board of elections before Election Day to determine if the board received your application. If there is a problem, then you can either register again or check with your county board of elections.

In Ohio, the registration deadline is Oct. 5, which includes online, in person or by mail if it is postmarked on that day.

COMMON OHIO VOTER REGISTRATION QUESTIONS

Q: When is the deadline? 

A: Oct. 5. You must complete your online application to vote by Oct. 5. If you are sending in a voter registration form, it must be postmarked by Oct. 5. If you are delivering your voter registration form in person or filling one out at an office listed above, you must do so by Oct. 5. 

Q: Who can register to vote in Ohio?

A: You are qualified to register to vote in Ohio if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • You are a citizen of the United States.
  • You will be at least 18 years old on or before the day of the general election.
  • You will be a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days immediately before the election in which you want to vote. For the Nov. 3 election, that date is Monday, Oct. 5 (the same day as the voter registration deadline).
  • You are not incarcerated (in jail or in prison) for a felony conviction.
  • You have not been declared incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court.
  • You have not been permanently disenfranchised for violations of election laws.

Q: When do I have to update my voter registration?

A: If you are already registered to vote but have moved within Ohio, you must update your voter registration by submitting a new voter registration form.  If your name has changed, you must update your voter registration by submitting a new voter registration form. Also, if you've been a registered, but inactive voter for 12 consecutive elections, you'll need to re-register. 

 If your valid change of name and/or address form is received or postmarked by the voter registration deadline, then you will be eligible to vote a regular (rather than a provisional) ballot at that election.

You may also update your registration during the 28 days immediately before, or on the day of, an election, but this may require you to vote a provisional ballot. For more information about provisional ballots, click here.

If you are already registered to vote but have changed your name after the voter registration deadline, you may appear at your polling location on Election Day, provide proof of legal name change, complete SOS-prescribed form 10-L and cast a regular ballot.

Q: How long would I need to be an inactive registered voter before my registration is purged in Ohio? 

A: According to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, a voter would need to miss 12 consecutive elections to be removed from the voting rolls. If you think you're in danger of this, check your voter registration status and re-register if needed.

Q: Can I check my voter registration information online? 

A: Yes. You may check your voter information by performing a voter information search on the Secretary of State's website by clicking here. If performing such a search returns the information you registered, your county board of elections has successfully processed your voter registration form. If the search does not return your information, contact your county board of elections to check on the status of your registration. You should perform this kind of search before the deadline to register to vote so that in the event that the board of elections did not receive your information, or if it is not accurate, you have time to submit a new form before the deadline. 

Q: Do I declare a party affiliation when I register to vote? 

A: No. Under Ohio election law, you declare your political party affiliation by requesting the ballot of a political party in a partisan primary election. The Nov. 3 election is a general election.

Q: Do I have to sign my voter registration form? How do I do this if I'm disabled? 

A: Ohio law requires you to sign the voter registration form. "Sign" or "signature" means your written, cursive-style legal mark written in your own handwriting. If you do not use a cursive-style legal mark in your regular business and legal affairs, "sign" or "signature" means any other legal mark that you use in your regular business and legal affairs that is written in your own handwriting.

Generally, signing or affixing a signature to an election-related document requires a person’s written, cursive-style legal mark written in that person’s own hand. However, a voter with a disability may personally affix his or her signature through the use of a reasonable accommodation, including the use of assistive technology or an augmentative device such as a signature stamp.

Q: How do I cancel my voter registration in Ohio? I'm moving out of state. 

A: You can cancel your registration by completing the Ohio Voter Registration Cancellation Request form(opens in a new window) and sending it to the county board of elections where you wish your registration to be canceled.  

IMPORTANT DATES, AND WHEN RESULTS ARE OFFICIAL

Early in-person voting in Ohio begins Oct. 6 for those registered, though dates and times vary by location. 

Election Day is Nov. 3 - this is the kickoff to what most likely will be election season, as votes continue to be counted up to 10 days after election night, and are certified on Nov. 24.

A Message from Voting Advocates

Voting is an important right as a citizen. Some local advocates we spoke with emphasized that it's important to remember your vote counts - no matter who you choose. 

And it all starts with registering.

"Register, register, register. Talk to a parent, talk to somebody you trust. Call, call anybody. I mean, you see a stranger and they will help you vote," said Reily Mulholland, the communication coordinator for Justice and Equality Toledo. 

"A big issue with elections is there is a lot of people who believe their vote won't count and that's why we end up electing the wrong person," added Blake Edwards, the co-founder of Justice and Equality Toledo.