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Early voting in Ohio starts on Oct. 12

by MARC KOVAC | RPC CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: October 12, 2016 10:54 AM

You're eligible to participate in a November presidential election if you are 18 or older, a U.S. citizen and a resident of Ohio.


If you're in prison for a felony conviction, have been declared incompetent by a judge or otherwise been "permanently disenfranchised for violating elections laws," then you're out of luck.

There are some specific rules about your residence for voting purposes that are worth reviewing.

You'll find a full description of voter eligibility and other requirements online at MyOhioVote.com.

2. What You'll Need: When registering for the first time, you'll be asked for your driver's license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number, among other personal details. If you don't have an Ohio driver's license or, for some reason, don't have your Social Security number, you'll have to provide some other forms of identification, like a bank statement, military ID, paycheck stub, etc.

3. Paper: The keyword here is forms -- you'll have to complete your voter registration on paper, whether writing your answers on a blank document or typing answers into an electronic form and printing it out.

While lawmakers have paved the way for online voter registration next year, that's not an option for this election.

4. Then What? You can either mail your registration paperwork to your local elections board or take it that office in person.

If doing the former, make sure it's in the mail by Tuesday -- it might be wise to ask the post office to ensure the envelope is postmarked accordingly.

5. No Vote: Even if you've been registered in the past, it's a good idea to recheck your voting status by today.

The process can be completed quickly online at MyOhioVote.com.

Even if you are eligible, if you're not properly registered, your vote likely won't be counted on Election Day.

6. Address Update: Along those lines, you should check your voter registration address online or through your local elections officials before the deadline today.

While you can't register online, you can update your address through the Secretary of State's website. You'll also find the location of your precinct polling place, if you decide to wait until Election Day to cast your ballot.

7. Early Numbers: As of about a week before Ohio's deadline, nearly 7.8 million people were registered to vote. That number should increase by the end of the day today.

There were nearly 8 million registered voters in 2012, and nearly 8.3 million in 2008, the previous two presidential elections.

8. Absentee Ballot Applications: Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted earlier mailed more than 6.6 million absentee ballot applications to registered voters.

As of about a week before the registration deadline, more than 957,000 of those applications had been returned to elections officials requesting absentee ballots.

9. Where's My Ballot? Unless you're serving in the military or living overseas but eligible to vote in Ohio, you won't get your absentee ballot until after today's registration deadline.

10. Legal Challenges: Voter advocates continue to voice concern about eligible Ohioans who have been removed from the rolls for not voting.

A federal appeals court last month ruled that the state violated federal election law on that issue.

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) called on Husted to return 1.2 million eligible voters to the state's rolls in advance of the registration deadline.

Husted said federal and state law requires voter rolls be kept up to date to avoid having deceased and ineligible voters on them.

Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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