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Don't Delay Returning Absentee Ballots, Ohio Voting Officials Say

If you’ve requested an absentee ballot, now is the time return it to your local board of elections, Ohio election officials said Wednesday.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2, the day before Election Day. Boards will accept properly postmarked absentees up until 10 days after the election, adding valid late arrivals to the post-election official vote canvass.

But voters face a tightening window if they want their absentee ballots counted by Election Night. The U.S. Postal Service has advised giving ballots about a week to travel through the mail system to their destinations.

Instead of mailing ballots, voters can return them to the county board of elections drop box before the close of the polls at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 3. Boxes are open 24/7 and under round-the-clock monitoring, according to a directive from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Bipartisan workers with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections are also collecting completed absentee ballots in the parking lot of Campus International High School off East 30th Street during in-person voting hours, with additional hours Monday and Election Day.

Voters can also choose to cast ballots early in person, even if they’ve previously requested — but not yet returned — an absentee ballot. If voters who have requested absentees show up to vote in person on Election Day, they’ll have to cast a provisional ballot.

This week, boards are open for in-person voting between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays. Boards will also hold early voting Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Statewide, 840,644 absentee ballots still had not yet been returned to county boards, LaRose’s office said Tuesday. In Cuyahoga County, that number was roughly 90,000, Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Deputy Director Shantiel Soeder said

“If you are one of those voters, again, we’re asking you to make sure that you return that as soon as possible to us,” Soeder said on a Wednesday livestreamed briefing.

About 2.2 million Ohioans voted as of Tuesday, already exceeding the 1.9 million early in-person or mail-in votes cast in the 2016 general election.

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