Ohio Voting Guide: What To Know About The 2020 Election

Feb 18, 2020
Originally published on April 28, 2020 6:14 pm

Ohio's election is upon us: Voting for the primary ends Tuesday, April 28.

But the election has looked a bit different this year: The coronavirus pandemic threw the 2020 primary season for a loop, as state officials across the country delayed voting to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

After canceling the March 17 in-person primary, Ohio switched to an absentee-only election and extended the time to vote through the end of April. All early votes will still be counted, but there's little in-person voting expected on Tuesday.

On Election Night, WOSU is watching a number of races and bringing you results as they come in. Here's what we're looking at:

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 spring election dates to keep in mind:

  • Primary election voter registration deadline: Feb. 18, 2020
  • Early voting begins: Feb. 19, 2020
  • Deadline to request absentee ballot: April 25, 2020
  • Deadline to postmark mail-in ballots: April 27, 2020
  • Limited in-person voting, and deadline to drop off ballots: April 28, 2020
  • Deadline for mail-in ballots to be received: May 8, 2020

Dates to know for the fall election:

  • General election voter registration deadline: Oct. 5, 2020
  • Early voting begins: Oct. 6, 2020
  • General election: Nov. 3, 2020

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 was Feb. 18, 2020. 

Despite state officials extending the timeframe for this year's primary, they have not reopened the window for voter registrations. The ACLU of Ohio says this violates federal law, and is considering a lawsuit.

For the general election, you can still register to vote online through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. But 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.

How And Where Do I Vote?

Couch? Desk? Porch? Take your pick, but it likely won’t be at a polling location.

Polling places were closed by public health order on March 17 over coronavirus concerns, and they won't be reopening this spring.

Ohio lawmakers extended the primary election until Tuesday April 28. Limited in-person voting will occur on that day only for individuals with disabilities, and for those who do not have a home mailing address.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has also directed all county boards of elections to allow in-person voting on April 28 for those who have requested, but have not yet received, absentee ballots by the election.

If you've filled out your absentee ballot but didn't get it in the mail, you can still drop it off Tuesday at your local board of elections, where each board has set up a secure dropbox. The boards will remain open until 7:30 p.m. (Find your local board of elections here.)

Absentee Voting

For the rest of the state, the remainder of the primary will be carried out remotely, via absentee ballots. The deadline to request an absentee ballot was April 25.

All mail-in ballots must have been postmarked by April 27. However, your ballots can be received up to 10 days after the election to be counted (May 8).

To get an absentee ballot, you must contact your county board of elections. You can request a ballot in one of three 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 write out your information on a blank sheet of paper, with the statement "I'm a qualified elector and I'm requesting an absentee ballot for the March 17th Ohio Primary." You can find out what info is required here.

Whichever method you choose, you’ll 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.

That back and forth could mean four trips through the mail, which voting rights groups say might take 3-5 days each. You also must attach your own postage. So don’t delay.

If you can't or don't want to mail your forms, many county boards of elections also have secure drop boxes for turning in ballots and ballot requests.

Vote counting will begin the evening of April 28, but full results won't be available until May 8.

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

The Ohio Secretary of State will also be mailing out informational postcards in April to every registered voter to inform them of this process.

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

Below is a rundown of some of the major races and issues you'll see in Ohio's upcoming elections. Primary ballots were certified by the Ohio Secretary of State on January 7, so some information has changed.

Find your sample ballot here.

Presidential Primary

Ohio will likely have 11 names on the ballot for the presidential primary—10 Democrats and one Republican. But just two of those candidates are still actively running: Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.

The deadline for candidates to submit their paperwork to the Secretary of State was December 18, and those that qualified were officially certified on January 7.

You can find more WOSU and NPR coverage of each candidate by clicking on their names below.

President Donald Trump is seeking re-election to a second term. Although he faced primary challengers in other states, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld failed to have his petitions certified, so Trump will not have an opponent in Ohio.

On the Democratic side, only Joe Biden is technically still running. But on the ballot you’ll have a choice between:

*indicates candidate suspended campaign, but will still appear on the Ohio primary ballot and votes for them will be counted

**indicates candidates suspended campaign and will appear on the Ohio ballot, but votes for them will be void

Some of these candidates dropped out of the presidential race before Ohio's election began, but will still appear on the ballot and have their votes counted. Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8, in the middle of Ohio's now-extended election, so votes for him will count as well.

The primary election season began on February 3 with the Iowa causus, and 60% of the nation's delegates were already awarded by the time Ohio's original March 17 election rolled around. Bennet and Patrick suspended their campaigns following the New Hampshire primary, while Steyer, Buttigieg and Klobuchar suspended theirs after the South Carolina primary. Bloomberg and Warren suspended their campaigns after Super Tuesday, and Gabbard dropped out in March.

All those candidates missed Ohio's February 6 withdrawal date, so they'll still appear in the Ohio primary election. All votes for them will still be counted.

Booker suspended his campaign before February 6, so while he'll still appear on the Ohio ballot, voters will receive notices that votes for him will be void.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney were disqualified for Ohio's Democratic ballot for failing to submit a complete petition. Delaney dropped out of the race in January. Yang was certified as a write-in candidate, then suspended his campaign after the New Hampshire primary.

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.

The deadline for candidates to submit their paperwork to the Secretary of State was December 18, and those that qualified were officially certified by county boards of elections on December 30.

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

1st District

  • Republican Steve Chabot (incumbent)
  • Democrat Nikki Foster
  • Democrat Kate Schroder
  • Libertarian Kevin David Kahn

2nd District

  • Republican Brad Wenstrup (incumbent)
  • Republican H. Robert Harris
  • Democrat Jaime Castle

3rd District

  • Democrat Joyce Beatty (incumbent)
  • Democrat Morgan Harper
  • Republican Cleophus Dulaney
  • Republican Mark Richardson

4th District

  • Republican Jim Jordan (incumbent)
  • Democrat Shannon Freshour
  • Democrat Mike Larsen
  • Democrat Jeffrey Sites
  • Libertarian Steve Perkins

5th District

  • Republican Bob Latta (incumbent)
  • Democrat M. Xavier Carrigan
  • Democrat Gene Redinger
  • Democrat Nick Rubando

6th District

  • Republican Bill Johnson (incumbent)
  • Republican Kenneth Morgan
  • Democrat Shawna Roberts

7th District

  • Republican Bob Gibbs (incumbent)
  • Democrat Patrick Quinn

8th District

  • Republican Warren Davidson (incumbent)
  • Republican Edward Meer
  • Democrat Vanessa Enoch
  • Democrat Matthew Guyette

9th District

  • Democrat Marcy Kaptur (incumbent)
  • Democrat Peter Rosewicz
  • Republican Tim Connors
  • Republican Charles W. Barrett
  • Republican Timothy Corrigan
  • Republican Rob Weber

10th District

  • Republican Michael Turner (incumbent)
  • Republican Kathi Flanders
  • Republican John Anderson
  • Democrat Eric Moyer
  • Democrat Desiree Tims

11th District

  • Democrat Marcia Fudge (incumbent)
  • Democrat James Jerome Bell
  • Democrat Tariq Shabazz
  • Democrat Michael Hood
  • Republican Jonah Schulz
  • Republican Laverne Gore
  • Republican Shalira Taylor

12th District

  • Republican Troy Balderson (incumbent)
  • Republican Tim Day
  • Democrat Alaina Shearer
  • Democrat Jenny Bell

13th District

  • Democrat Tim Ryan (incumbent)
  • Republican Christina Hagan
  • Republican Duane Hennen
  • Republican Lou Lyras
  • Republican Robert Santos

14th District

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

15th District

  • Republican Steve Stivers (incumbent)
  • Republican Shelby Hunt
  • Democrat Daniel Kilgore
  • Democrat Joel Newby

16th District

  • Republican Anthony Gonzalez (incumbent)
  • Democrat Aaron Paul Godfrey
  • Democrat Ronald Karpus III

Ohio Supreme Court

There won't be many statewide votes this election, 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.

Those four candidates will be listed in their respective party primaries in March. However, general elections for Ohio Supreme Court seats are technically nonpartisan, so the candidates won't appear with party designations come November.

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.

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