TOLEDO, Ohio — The November general elections are approaching amidst unprecedented times. With that in mind, we are trying to answer all the questions voters in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan may have, especially the ones casting mail-in ballots for the first time.
1. What are all of the deadlines that voters face in Ohio and Michigan?
Oct. 5: Deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the 2020 general election (30 days before Election Day).
Oct 31: Applications for absentee ballots to be mailed for the 2020 general elections must be received by boards of elections by noon (Three days before Election Day) - You can already request your mail-in ballot.
Nov. 3: Polls across Ohio will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19: Last day to register in any manner other than in-person with your local clerk for the 2020 general elections.
Oct. 20 through Nov. 3: In-person registration with your local clerk - you need to bring proof of residency with you.
Oct. 30: (No later than 5 p.m.) Last day to request an absentee ballot.
Nov. 2: If you’re already registered at your current address, you can request an absent voter ballot in-person at your clerk’s office anytime until 4 p.m.
Nov. 3: Polls are open across Michigan from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
2. How to register to be eligible to vote in the 2020 general elections?
You can register to vote online, in-person or by mail.
Online: You can submit your voter registration application or update your voter registration information on the Ohio Secretary of State website. You will have to provide your Ohio driver's license or ID number, your name, date of birth, address and last four digits of your Social Security number.
In-person: You can get a voter registration form and register to vote at any of the following locations: The office of the secretary of state in Columbus; the office of any of the 88 county boards of elections - You can get directions to any of these offices here; the office of the registrar or any deputy registrar of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles; public libraries; public high schools or vocational schools.
You can also register to vote at 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.
By mail: You can fill out this form and mail it to your local county board of elections office. You can get directions to any of 88 county boards of elections here.
You have until Oct. 5 to register and be eligible to vote in the 2020 general elections.
In order to be eligible to vote in Ohio, you must meet all of the following requirements: be a U.S. citizen; be at least 18 years of old on or before Nov. 3; be a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days immediately before the election in which you want to vote; not incarcerated for a felony; you haven't been declared incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court; you haven't been permanently disenfranchised for violating election laws.
You can check your Ohio voter registration online by clicking here.
You can register to vote online, in-person, in-person on Election Day and by mail.
Online: If you have a Michigan driver's license or ID, you can register to vote following the steps on the secretary of state office's website clicking here.
In-person: You can go to any of the following locations to get and submit a voter registration form: At your city or township clerk’s office or your county clerk’s office; at any state agency that provides public assistance or services to people with disabilities; and through a voter registration drive.
By mail: You can mail your complete application postmarked by Oct. 19 to your city or township clerk’s office or your county clerk’s office. You will need to print and fill out this form and send a copy - not an original document - of either your Michigan driver's license or state ID; or paycheck stub, utility bill, bank document or government document that lists your name and address.
In-person on Election Day: You can register to vote and vote in-person on Election Day at your city or township clerk’s office. You’ll need to bring your proof of eligibility and residency.
In order to be eligible to vote in Michigan, you must meet all of the following requirements: be a Michigan resident and a resident of your city or township for at least 30 days when you vote; be a U.S. citizen; be at least 18 when you vote - you can register when you're 17 and a half; not currently serving jail or prison.
You can check your Michigan voter registration online by clicking here.
How do you vote absentee or cast a mail ballot?
Requesting an absentee ballot:
First, you need to request an absentee ballot. The secretary of state's office is sending out 7.8 million absentee ballot request forms to every voter in the state around Labor Day weekend. You can use the one you receive or you can request your own.
To request your absentee ballot, you can use this form available on the Ohio Secretary of State website or you can choose not to use a prescribed form and write your own request.
If you choose to write your own request, you will need to provide your name, legal signature, the address at which you're registered to vote and date of birth.
You will also need to show proof of identification by including one of the following: your Ohio driver's license number, the last four digits of your Social Security number or a copy - not the original - of valid photo identification, military identification, a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or another government document (it cannot be a notice of voter registration mailed by a county board of elections) that shows your name and current address.
In your written request, you will need to state that you're a qualified voter and the election for which you're requesting an absentee ballot. Additionally, if you want the ballot to be mailed to a different address other than where you are registered, you will need to include it.
Below is an example of a written request for an absentee ballot:
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 31 so you're eligible to cast your vote in the 2020 general elections.
Once you completed your absentee request, sign it and mail it to your county board of elections. You can find directions for all 88 county boards of elections here.
What do you do once you receive your absentee ballot from your county board of elections:
You can track the status of your ballot request online by clicking here. If you have any questions about your request, you can call your county board of elections.
Once you receive your ballot in the mail, you will need to fill it out and return it to your county board of elections. You can send your ballot by U.S. mail or deliver it in person to you county board of elections.
To make sure your vote is counted, your marked ballot must either be received by your county board of election before the polls close on Election Day, or it must be postmarked no later than Nov. 2 and received by the board of elections no later than 10 days after the election.
USPS recommends you to postmark your ballot by using a postage label purchased at a USPS customer service window or vending machine - the date on the label is the postmark. You shouldn't use a postage meter or an online service (such as stamps.com) to affix postage.
Additionally, it's important that you remeber that USPS estimates that it may take two to five days for your absentee ballot to be delivered and that it's your responsibility to make sure your ballot has enough postage.
You can apply for an absentee ballot online; find more information on the steps you'll need to follow here.
The state of Michigan has mailed a absentee ballot to every voter in Michigan this year. If you have not received one or can't find yours, you can call your city or townshp clerk and ask that an application be mailed to you, or download an application to be returned by mail or in-person to your local clerk or township.
You can download an application by clicking here or find more information on how to get one here.
Requests for an asentee ballot must be received by your township or city clerk no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 31. If you’re already registered at your current address, you can request an absent voter ballot in-person at your clerk’s office anytime up to 4 p.m. on Nov. 2.
If you request your ballot the day before the election or on Election Day, you must cast the ballot in the clerk's office.
Keep in mind that in order to make your vote count, your completed absentee ballot must be received by your city or township clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
You can track your ballot by clicking here and learn more details here.
When does early in-person voting start in Ohio and what are the days, times and locations?
The only way you can vote early in Michigan is by mail (information is above).
In-person early voting in Ohio starts four weeks before Election Day. This year, the date falls on Oct. 6.
Most Ohio counties provide early voting at their board of elections office. However, the following counties have separate early voting centers:
- Lucas: Ohio Means Jobs Building, 1301 Monroe Street, Toledo Ohio 43604(opens in a new window)
- Miami: Hobart Center for County Government, 510 West Water Street, Troy Ohio 45373(opens in a new window)
- Summit: SCBOE Early Vote Center, 500 Grant Street, Akron Ohio 44311(opens in a new window)
You can check the times early in-person polls are open and the schedule for this year's election here.
If you have any other questions regarding the elections or voting this year, email Renata Cló at firstname.lastname@example.org.