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Counter Points is written by WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson. In it, he shares insights on political news on the local, state and national level that impacts the 2020 election. Counter Points is delivered once a week on Wednesdays and will cease publication soon after the November election is decided.

How To Vote In Ohio, Kentucky And Indiana During A Pandemic

voting in a pandemic
Tony Dejak
A Cuyahoga County board of elections worker cleans a booth after a person voted in Ohio's primary election, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland.

Americans may not agree on a lot these days, but one thing is certain: This is an election year like none other. Whether you are voting by mail, voting early or heading to the polls in-person on Tuesday, Nov. 3, here's everything voters in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana need to know about casting a ballot this year. 

First, it's important to note that boards of elections across the Tri-State are taking measures to ensure voters' safety during this coronavirus pandemic. Ohio and Kentucky have made it easier for people to vote by mail, which you can read more about below. If you plan to vote in person on Nov. 3, various boards of elections have said they will follow CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting machines and booths, as well as making sure any crowds or lines are properly socially distanced. 

Guidance issued back in March still applies: mask up, wash hands and cover coughs and sneezes. 


Who/What Am I Voting For?

In addition to voting for president, voters in Southwest Ohio also have to decide on a series of local contests. Here's where to find out what races are contested and the issues on the ballot in your county: 

Am I Registered To Vote?

The deadline to register to vote in Ohio was Oct. 5. Check to see if you are registered to vote via the following links if you live in: 

If you are not registered, you can sign up here, though you will not be able to vote in the Nov. 3 election.

RELATED: Hoffbauer, McGuffy Face Off For Hamilton County Sheriff Seat

How Do I Vote Absentee?

You need to request an absentee ballot by noon on Oct. 31. Ballots will start being mailed Oct. 6. After you receive your ballot and fill it out, seal it inside the identification envelope, and seal the identification envelope inside the return envelope. This creates two layers of protection for the ballot from anyone trying to get in and tamper with it.

Ballots can then either be mailed to the your county's board of elections using the U.S. Postal Service or dropped off by hand at your board of elections' office. Voters mailing their ballots must have them postmarked one day before the election – in this case, Nov. 2. If you drop off your ballot by hand, you have until 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, to return your ballot.

RELATED: How Mail-In Voting Works In Ohio: A Step-by-Step Guide

What If I Change My Mind And Want To Vote In Person?

Do not fill out and mail-in your absentee ballot. If you’ve already received an absentee ballot in the mail and plan to vote early, your local board of elections will ask for your absentee ballot back and give you a new, regular ballot at the early in-person voting site. You’re not required to return the other ballot as a condition for getting a new one, however.

If you show up at your polling place on Election Day, you will be permitted to vote using a provisional ballot. The board of elections will then determine that your absentee ballot was not cast in order to count your provisional ballot.

RELATED: Race Could Be Key Issue In Deters-Rucker Fight For Prosecutor's Office

Can I Vote Early/Where Do I Vote In Person?

Early voting in Ohio begins Oct. 6 and ends Nov. 2. Find your polling place by clicking on the link below of the county in which you live. On Election Day, Ohio polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and you must bring an acceptable form of photo ID

You can find this information for all 88 of Ohio's counties at the Ohio Secretary of State website, MyOhioVote.com

RELATED: 3 Candidates Vying For Hamilton County Commission Seat

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU


Who/What Am I Voting For?

Here are sample ballots for BooneCampbell and Kenton counties.

Perhaps the contest garnering the most attention is that between Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger Amy McGrath

RELATED: McGrath Narrowly Wins Ky. Senate Primary

Am I Registered To Vote?

The deadline to register to vote in Kentucky was Oct. 5. Find out if you are registered by entering your first and last name and date of birth into the form on the Kentucky State Board of Elections' website.

Not registered? Get started now (though you won't be able to vote in the Nov. 3 election).

RELATED: Why Don't More Northern Kentuckians Vote?

How Do I Vote Absentee?

Your absentee ballot request must be received by Oct. 9 and can be returned in one of two ways: by dropping it off in person at your local county clerk's office on Nov. 3 by 6 p.m. local time; or by mail, postmarked by 6 p.m. local time on Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 6.

What If I Change My Mind And Want To Vote In Person? 

"Technically you can, but it's not a great idea," University of Kentucky Law Professor Joshua Douglas tells the Ohio Valley ReSource. "You'll have to fill out paperwork to cancel your absentee ballot request. But, if you requested a ballot but don't receive it by Oct. 28, then you can visit an early in-person site or show up on Nov. 3 to vote. 

RELATED: Moderate Owensby Will Face 'Extremist' Massie For NKY House Seat

Can I Vote Early/Where Do I Vote?

Kentucky's early voting takes place Oct. 13-Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 3. Both forms of voting now require a photo ID. Know where to go by entering your first and last name, as well as your date of birth, into this form. Election Day polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Credit John Minchillo / AP


Who/What Am I Voting For?

In addition to president, Indiana is voting for governor, attorney general and other state representatives

RELATED: Indiana Public Radio Talks To Democratic Candidate For Governor Dr. Woody Meyers

Am I Registered To Vote?

The deadline to register to vote in Indiana was Oct. 5. You can find out if you are registered at IndianaVoters.IN.gov. If you are not registered, you can sign up here, though you will not be able to vote in the Nov. 3 election.

How Do I Vote Absentee?

Unlike other states, Indiana has not relaxed its rules around absentee voting. Currently, there are 11 accepted reasons for voting by mail in Indiana, but the coronavirus pandemic is not one of them. 

If you qualify, your absentee ballot request must be submitted by Oct. 22. Any application received after that deadline - even if it is postmarked before that deadline - will not be accepted. You can fill out an application at IndianaVoters.in.gov

RELATED: Indiana Public Radio Talks To Incumbent Republican Governor Eric Holcomb

The website of Indiana's Secretary of State Office states that absentee ballots must be received by noon local time on Election Day. However, the South Bend Tribune reported Oct. 1 that a federal judge recently rejected that deadline and said absentee ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received on or before Nov. 13 will be counted. 

Can I Vote Early/Where Do I Vote?

Early voting in Indiana runs from Oct. 6-Nov. 3. You must bring a photo ID with an expiration date that was issued by the state or the U.S. government, such as a driver's license or military ID. You can find more examples of acceptable IDs here.

RELATED: Indiana Public Radio Talks To Libertarian Candidate For Governor Donald Rainwater

Find your voting location at IndianaVoters.IN.gov. Election Day polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.