Election Day is 28 days away. Early voting starts today. Game time!
Early voting starts today. Hopefully, people who requested an absentee ballot through the end of September will see the ballot in their mail very soon. However, I’ve already heard anecdotal evidence of very slow mail delivery in our area. I had been advocating that people mail their voted ballots back to the Board of Elections ,BOE, by no later than October 19. For people who insist on mailing their voted ballot back, that is still good advice. However, I’ve become convinced that it is better for people to use one of two alternatives to keep their votes out of the mail as much as possible.
Alternative A is to take the voted absentee ballot to Batavia and put it in the drop box outside the BOE office at 76 S. Riverside Drive (S.R. 222). Remember three things:
- Only the voter or her immediate family member may legally put the voter’s ballot in the drop box. Yes, it is likely that no one will know if you put your neighbor’s ballot in the box at midnight. However, there is a security camera monitoring the drop box 24/7. There could easily be a problem if you are on video dropping a dozen ballots in the box at once or dropping one or two ballots in the box several times between now and 7:30 p.m. on November 3.
- If a voter is using the drop box, the ballot still must be sealed inside the identification envelope and the voter’s information must be correctly completed on the identification envelope. The voter must sign and date the envelope. The voter must give an e-mail address and telephone number where the voter can be reached. The e-mail and phone number are critical for the BOE to notify the voter if he forgot something on the identification envelope.
- Absentee ballots cannot be accepted from voters at polling places on November 3. Voted absentee ballots must be taken to the BOE in Batavia. Nowhere else.
Alternative B is to vote in-person at the early voting facility at the BOE office. Voting started there today at 8:00 a.m. Early voting hours are posted on the BOE home page, boe.clermontcountyohio.gov. There may be a wait because only three or four voters will be allowed in at a time. However, in-person early voting takes the USPS out of the process entirely. Voters may vote a regular ballot at the early in-person voting facility even if the voter has requested or received an absentee ballot. In that case, the absentee ballot should be returned, unvoted, to the BOE.
Returning the unused absentee ballot to the BOE is not mandatory. However, you absolutely may not try to vote twice. Do not return a voted absentee ballot and vote in person, either in early voting or at a polling place on Election Day. If you voted your absentee ballot and mailed it back, post a reminder to yourself that you already voted and can’t do it again.
You don’t get to vote again because Voter View does not show your absentee ballot as received by Election Day. The law requires absentee ballots received for ten days after Election Day to be counted as long as the absentee ballot was postmarked before November 3.
So, if you mailed back a voted absentee ballot and vote in person, you have tried to vote twice if your absentee ballot is delivered to the BOE by November 13. Trying to vote twice in the same election is a crime in Ohio.
You may vote a provisional ballot at your polling place on Election Day if you did not receive your absentee ballot. That provisional ballot will be counted so long as it is the only ballot you cast.