Absentee voting

This fall, election workers will sort mountains of paper, upload data from thousands of USB sticks and tabulate millions of votes — all to tell Ohioans who won their 18 electors, who will don judges’ robes, who will ascend to local office and who will pay more in taxes.

How do county election boards keep it all straight?

“You have to be extremely organized,” Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Director Anthony Perlatti said. “We put a bar code on everything, we label everything.”

A social distancing sign rests on the floor as people participate during early voting at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Ohio boards of elections are seeing an unprecedented flood of early in-person voting and dropping off of absentee ballots, in spite of heated partisanship that has bred fear among some voters. Elections officials, law enforcement and citizens groups are mobilized to keep voters safe.

Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET Tuesday

With one week still remaining until Election Day, Americans have already cast a record-breaking 66 million early ballots, putting the 2020 election on track for historic levels of voter turnout.

That's some 19 million more pre-election votes than were cast in the 2016 election, according to the U.S. Elections Project, a turnout-tracking database run by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald.

In this April 28, 2020 file photo, Marcia McCoy drops her ballot into a box outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland, Ohio.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

A federal lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose that could have allowed counties to add more ballot drop boxes at various locations for the November election has been dropped.

Answering Your Questions About Voting In Ohio

Oct 21, 2020
Voters cast their ballots using social distancing at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak / AP

The pandemic has upset the usual protocol for voting and created political fights out of logistical issues.

Voters have requested a record 2.7 million absentee ballots, many for the first time. The onslaught that has brought questions, confusion and errors.

A direct mail company that’s been hired to print and distribute absentee ballots to Ohioans who requested them has not been able to get them to voters as fast as was promised.

Several Northeast Ohio boards of elections are expanding their capacity to accept dropped-off absentee ballots amid a surge in early voting.

Local election officials are adding drop boxes and ballot collection points—but they’re doing so only in the immediate vicinity of boards’ headquarters, following an Oct. 5 directive from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

A view of an Ohio voting sticker at the Hamilton County Board of Elections to participate in early voting, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Norwood, Ohio.
Aaron Doster / Associated Press

WOSU’s Letters from Home is collecting stories from our day-to-day lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to hear reflections and thoughts from all Ohioans.

Voters line up outside the Franklin County Board of Elections for early voting on Oct. 6, 2020.
Julie Carr Smyth / Associated Press

A record-breaking number of Ohioans, nearly 200,000, voted in person during the first week of early voting, tripling the number from 2016.

Absentee voting has been the choice for 2.5 million more as the pandemic and politics collide for an election season full of confusion and questions.

In the lead up to next month’s election, ideastream is answering your questions about voting. Lacey from Columbus asked what happens if your ballot seems to have been lost in the mail.

According to Portage County Board of Elections Deputy Director Terry Nielsen, if a voter calls into the board to report a missing ballot, the board can mark an already mailed absentee ballot as void and send a new one.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Tina Barton knew counting mail ballots would become a problem.

More than 500 people queued up Tuesday morning in Franklin County as early voting began.
Nick Evans / WOSU

The Franklin County Board of Elections has determined that 49,669 voters throughout the county received an incorrect absentee ballot this week – accounting for almost 21% of the ballots mailed out to voters.

In this April 28, 2020 file photo, Marcia McCoy drops her ballot into a box outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland, Ohio.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

In the latest legal wrangling over Ohio's ballot drop boxes, a federal judge in Cleveland has temporarily blocked Secretary of State Frank LaRose's directive limiting the receptacles to one location within a county. But LaRose moved immediately to appeal.

Voter rights groups have a message to people who are new to filling out mail-in absentee ballots: read through the instructions on the ballots carefully. Advocates say there are several ways a voter can get tripped up which is why it's important to send the ballot in early.

Voters drive up to the Franklin County Board of Elections for curbside voting on Oct. 6, 2020
Nick Evans / WOSU

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss what voter enthusiasm and recent polling may mean for the 2020 election. 

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