A Pandemic Voter Guide for Ohio’s 2020 Primary

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ATHENS, Ohio (OVR) — Ohio’s primary was moved to April 28 from its original date on March 17.

The most important thing to remember about the date of Ohio’s rescheduled primary is April 27 — the day before the actual election date. That’s because most residents will be voting by mail, and those ballots must be postmarked by April 27 to count.

Here are a few other things you should know.

  • If you’ve already sent in your ballot, it will be counted.
  • If you haven’t registered, you’ve missed the chance, but it’s a good time to register for later elections.
  • If you are registered and want to vote but don’t know how to get a ballot, read on.

First, are you registered for the primary?

The deadline to register for Ohio’s primary was Feb. 18, 2020. Check here to make sure you’re registered to vote and your information is up-to-date or call 877-889-6446.

For the elections later this year, you have to register at least 30 days before, which is:

  • July 6, 2020 for the August 4, 2020 Special Election
  • October 5, 2020 for the November 3, 2020 General Election

You can register to vote online through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website at

You must provide your name, date of birth, address and ONE of the following:

  1. driver’s license or Ohio ID card number
  2. the last four digits of your Social Security number
  3. a copy of an acceptable form of ID (check here)

You can also print out this paper form, fill it out and deliver it to your county board of elections. Follow this link to find locations.

Do I have to vote by absentee?

Most likely, yes.

Limited in-person voting will be available on April 28 only at boards of elections early vote centers and only for only individuals with disabilities, and those who do not have a home mailing address. Check with your local board of election for details.

What are the deadlines?

You don’t have much time left for the primary.

You can request an absentee ballot until April 25. BUT all mail-in ballots must be postmarked by April 27. Ballots received up to 10 days (May 8) after the election will be counted.

So you have just about 11 days from April 16 for the following to happen through the mail:

Requesting a ballot from your local board of elections in one of three ways:

  1. Go online and print your own absentee ballot request form.
  2. Call your local board of elections and ask them to send you a form.
  3. Write out your information on a blank sheet of paper (see list from first question above), with the statement “I’m a qualified elector and I’m requesting an absentee ballot for the March 17th Ohio Primary.” (Yes, use the original date of the election.) Mail the sheet to mail it to your board of elections. Find out what information is required here, under the “Vote-by-Mail” section.

Many county boards of elections also have secure drop boxes for turning in ballots and ballot requests. The League of Women Voters offers these these tips for making sure you fill out your ballot correctly.

What if I’m hospitalized on Election Day, or my child is?

To be eligible under this provision, you or your minor child must be confined in a hospital because of an accident or unforeseeable medical emergency that happened after 12 p.m. (noon) on the Saturday Before Election Day and before 3 p.m. on Election Day.

You will need to fill out a special absentee hospitalization form by following this link or requesting one.

This process to vote will involve in-person delivery and pick-up of the ballot on Election Day. For details, go here.

Are mail-in ballots a secure way to vote?

Election experts say voter fraud among any type of voting, including mail-in ballot, is extremely rare. According to NPR, mail-in ballots accounted for 1 in 4 votes in 2018 and are increasing in popularity.

And it has bipartisan support. Mail-in ballots are used in Republican-friendly states such as Florida, Arizona and Utah. Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed that a mail-in ballot be sent to every voter in the country.

For a look at how states are handling voting during a pandemic, see this chart from the Brennan Center.


This guide was produced with America Amplified, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. America Amplified is using community engagement to inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism.