early voting

Debbie Holmes / WOSU

Voter turnout in Ohio has hovered around 70% in presidential election years, and the Secretary of State predicts turnout will be as high as ever this year. But with lingering concerns about the pandemic, election officials say it's important to get as many Ohioans as possible to vote early.

A bowl of stickers for those taking advantage of early voting, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Steubenville, Ohio.
Gene Puskar / Associated Press

On a party-line vote, an Ohio House committee passed a bill that will make some changes to election law. Backers say it gives more flexibility to election officials should COVID-19 cause changes this November but its opponents have concerns.

On a recent Saturday night, tens of thousands of people joined a nine-hour virtual dance party on Instagram Live that was hosted by DJ D-Nice. Some familiar big names have been dropping into what he calls "Club Quarantine," like John Legend, Joe Biden and Mark Zuckerberg.

But it was the appearance of former first lady Michelle Obama that seemed to have a big impact.

"Oh my gosh. Michelle Obama's in here," D-Nice exclaimed as Obama's appearance brought the music to a brief stop. "Yo, I swear, I don't even know who to play right now. My mind's completely blown."

While much of the country has come to a standstill because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, democracy, it seems, goes on.

Four states are set to hold their presidential primaries on Tuesday, and many more states and territories are currently scheduled to vote before the end of April.

Here are answers to three questions you may have about voting in the time of a pandemic.

1. Are elections still happening?

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

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to expedite a case from the group trying to put a voter rights amendment on the November ballot. Ohioans For Secure And Fair Elections is seeking to appeal a decision by the Ohio Ballot Board to split their measure into four different initiatives.

Ohio I Voted Stickers
John Minchillo / Associated Press

The Ohio Ballot Board has voted to split a voter rights measure into four separate potential ballot issues. The amendment, which includes constitutionally protected early voting and automated voter registration, could now circulate as four different petitions.

Ohio I Voted Stickers
John Minchillo / Associated Press

The Ohio elections chief says nearly 150,000 absentee ballots have been requested with about three weeks to go before the state's March 17 presidential primary. 

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

Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote for Ohio’s presidential primary on March 17. Early voting begins Wednesday.

Voters can check their registration with the Secretary of State's office.

Debbie Holmes / WOSU

An Ohio State University elections law professor says a proposed constitutional amendment on voter registration would likely lead to more engagement.

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

A group known as Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections has filed a petition with the Ohio Attorney General's Office to propose a voting-related constitutional amendment for this November's ballot.

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

Monday is the last day for early voting before Tuesday's election. 

The Shamrock Club of Columbus Bass Drum
Columbus Neighborhoods / WOSU

The two year operating budget will move next year’s presidential primary to St. Patrick’s Day. Republicans had to move it to after March 15 so they could award all delegates to a single candidate.

Ohio I Voted Stickers
John Minchillo / Associated Press

Early voting has concluded across Ohio, and turnout has blown past figures for past midterms. 

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

More Ohioans requested early absentee ballots for this midterm election than in 2014. But Ohio is behind other states that are seeing record early turnout levels.

voting booths
John Minchillo / Associated Press

An estimated 1.2 million absentee ballots have been requested and more than 737,000 cast so far in Ohio, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

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