Ohio Voting Guide: What To Know About The 2020 Election

Apr 27, 2020

Ohio's fall election is fast-approaching, with the pandemic still in full swing. Election Day is scheduled for November 3, and the U.S. presidential race, all 12 Ohio congressional seats and many other state races will be on the ballot.

During the primaries, the coronavirus outbreak pushed Ohio to postpone its spring election and switch to almost entirely absentee voting. This time around, county boards of elections have gotten more money and support to prepare, but expect another election heavily dependent on voting by mail.

Below, WOSU put together a guide to help you navigate Ohio’s 2020 election, including information on how to vote, and a rundown of what you can expect on your ballot. This guide will be updated with new information throughout the year.

Here’s some key dates to know for the fall election:

  • General election voter registration deadline: Oct. 5, 2020
  • Early voting and mail-in voting begins: Oct. 6, 2020
  • Deadline to request absentee ballot: Oct. 31, 2020
  • Early voting and mail-in voting ends: Nov. 2, 2020
  • General election: Nov. 3, 2020

Voter Information

The early voting center at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus.
Credit John Minchillo / Associated Press

How Do I Register To Vote?

Make sure you’re registered to vote – or have updated your voter information – no later than 30 days before an election. The deadline to register for Ohio’s primary is Oct. 5, 2020.

For the general election, you can register to vote online through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. To do so, you must provide your name, date of birth, address, driver’s license or Ohio ID card number, and the last four digits of your Social Security number. 

Alternatively, you can print out this paper form, fill it out and deliver it to your county board of elections. Find where that's located here.

Absentee Voting

Many Ohioans will choose to cast their vote via absentee ballots this fall. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 31 at 12 p.m.

You can get an absentee ballot in the following 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. Or, if you're one of 8 million Ohioans already registered to vote, you may receive an absentee ballot request form in the mail from the Ohio Secretary of State's Office.

Whichever method you choose, you have to fill out and send the completed request form to your local board of elections, then wait for the board to mail back a ballot. Fill that ballot out and mail it back to your board of elections.

If you're going to vote by mail, which is a secure and popular method of voting, your ballot must be postmarked by November 2, the day before the election. You also must attach your own postage. 

Please note: You should mail your ballot as soon as possible. That back and forth could mean four trips through the mail, and the U.S. Postal Service estimates it may take between 2-5 days to deliver each way. This spring election saw even longer delays, and many Ohioans had their votes invalidated because they arrived late.

Voting rights groups suggest mailing your ballot at least a week before Election Day. Your ballots can be received up to 10 days after the election to be counted.

Alternatively, you can drop off your absentee ballot in person at your county board of elections anytime before November 3 at 7:30 p.m.  Each of Ohio's 88 election boards has a secure drop box for turning in ballots and ballot requests.

Here are some tips from the League of Women Voters for making sure you fill out your ballot correctly.

Do I Need Voter ID?

Yes, but not necessarily a picture ID. First off, check here to make sure you're registered to vote and your information is up-to-date.

To get an absentee ballot, Ohio law requires some form of acceptable identification, which includes:

  • An unexpired Ohio driver’s license or state ID card with present or former address, as long as your present residential address is in the official list of registered voters for that precinct
  • A military ID
  • A photo ID issued by the United States government or the State of Ohio, that contains your name and current address, and that has not passed its expiration
  • An original or copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other document with your name and present address ("current" means in the last 12 months).

Check the entire list of acceptable IDs here.

If you've moved or changed your name, but didn't update your voter registration by the deadline, you can still vote using a provisional ballot

What Am I Voting On?

Democratic presidential candidates stand on stage for a photo before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio.
Credit Tony Dejak / AP

Below is a rundown of some of the major races you'll see on Ohio's ballot this November, from the presidential race on down.

Find your sample ballot here.

Presidential Primary

At the top of the ticket is the U.S. presidential race between former Vice President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic candidate, and incumbent President Donald Trump, the Republican candidate.

Trump's running mate remains Vice President Mike Pence, while Biden is in the process of selecting his VP.

The Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention are both scheduled to take place (virtually, at least) later in August, at which point Biden's nomination will be made official.

For independent candidates for president and vice president, the deadline for filing a signature petition is August 5 at 4 p.m.

U.S. House

The presidency isn't the only federal-level election happening this year. All 16 of Ohio's congressional seats are also up for grabs in 2020.

Currently the delegation is occupied by 12 Republicans and four Democrats, and although Ohio's legislature approved a plan to redraw the Congressional map, that won't impact any election until 2022.

Here's a rundown of the candidates in each of Ohio's districts.

1st District

2nd District

3rd District

  • Democrat Joyce Beatty (incumbent)
  • Republican Mark Richardson

4th District

5th District

  • Republican Bob Latta (incumbent)
  • Democrat Nick Rubando

6th District

  • Republican Bill Johnson (incumbent)
  • Democrat Shawna Roberts

7th District

  • Republican Bob Gibbs (incumbent)
  • Democrat Patrick Quinn

8th District

9th District

10th District

11th District

12th District

13th District

14th District

  • Republican David Joyce (incumbent)
  • Democrat Hillary O'Connor Mueri

15th District

16th District

Ohio Supreme Court

There won't be many statewide votes this fall, with the exception of two Ohio Supreme Court seats.

Republicans Judith French and Sharon Kennedy are both seeking re-election to another six-year term on the state's highest court. Currently, five of the court's seven judges are Republicans. 

French faces a Democratic challenger in Jennifer Bruner, a former Ohio Secretary of State and current judge on Ohio's 10th District Court of Appeals.

Kennedy will face Democrat John P. O'Donnell, currently a judge on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

What Do You Want To Hear In 2020?

Credit John Minchillo / Associated Press

Now WOSU wants to hear from you.

Maybe you’ve already made your decision on who you're supporting in this year's elections, but many people in Ohio remain undecided. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or somewhere in the middle, WOSU wants your input: What is the biggest issue on your mind in 2020, and why does it matter to you?

Submit your response to that question below, and WOSU may get in touch for a future story.