2020 Ohio Primary: Boards Of Elections Prepared For Limited In-Person Voting

Apr 28, 2020

More than 1.97 million Ohioans requested mail-in ballots ahead of Tuesday's primary election. But boards of elections across the state are still expecting some voters to cast provisional ballots in person.

On April 28, voting is only available at county boards of elections offices for those with disabilities, those without a fixed address, or those who’ve requested an absentee ballot but have not received it in time.

Mike West with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections said they are taking precautions to keep voters as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, including taking temperatures and social distancing.

"People will have to handle their own ballot. And the whole area of voting is going to be sanitized," West said.

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections isn't sure how many voters will actually cast their ballots in person, but West said his office is prepared to handle overflow crowds safely.

All mail-in ballots had to be postmarked by Monday to be counted. But absentee ballots can still be dropped off at county boards of elections until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Unprecedented Territory

COVID-19 upended Ohio’s primary election, causing the state to suddenly delay voting by more than a month and shift to mostly-absentee voting. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says this is an extension of absentee voting by mail for the March 17 primary – not a resetting of that date, which would have required the state to reopen voter registration.

“We’re now the first state to run an all vote-by-mail election as a result of this pandemic," LaRose said. "We’ve dealt with a lot of logistical challenges.”

Voters have reported not receiving their requested ballots in the mail in time to send them back. The U.S. Postal Service promised to expedite those ballots after hearing from LaRose and Ohio’s Congressional delegation.

LaRose says those who didn’t get their ballots can vote provisional ballots in person at their local board of elections, though Ohio is still under a stay at home order.