IDEAS: Real patriots vote

Hundreds of people lined up at the Greene Board of Election on Wednesday to vote early in the 2020 Presidential Election.
Hundreds of people lined up at the Greene Board of Election on Wednesday to vote early in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: This guest column by Jen Miller, executive director of League of Women Voters of Ohio, appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Friday, Oct. 23.

Between now and Election Day, millions of Ohioans will perform a cherished and patriotic act: voting. As a non-partisan voter advocate, I want you to know two things: Ohio’s election is trustworthy, and knowledge is power, so know your rights.

Here’s how the voting process is protected.

Jen Miller, executive director of League of Women Voters of Ohio
Jen Miller, executive director of League of Women Voters of Ohio

Credit: Credit to Glenna Jennings

Credit: Credit to Glenna Jennings

Absentee voting has two identity checks: first for the voter to qualify for the ballot and then for the ballot to count. We encourage voters to send their ballots immediately to avoid mail delays. Alternatively, voters can use the County ballot drop box that’s monitored 24/7 by security cameras. Each day, a bipartisan team of election officials empty the drop box and lock the ballots in a vault with two keys - each used by a member of a different political party.

ExploreIDEAS: Voting is safe and Ohio is ready to go, secretary of state says.

The drop boxes are also protected from ballot stuffing: only a voter or immediate family member can drop off a ballot.

Voting in-person is also secure, whether you decide to vote at the Early Vote Center or at your polling location on Election Day. The equipment is stored, transported, and set up by well-trained bipartisan teams. Additionally, voting machines produce a paper record for auditing and are not connected to the internet to prevent hacking.

Some voters cast provisional ballots, because of a question about eligibility that needs to be resolved before their vote is counted. If they forgot their ID, for example.

ExploreElection 2020: Extra hour added for final stretch of Ohio’s early voting

No matter what you may have heard, all provisional ballots are counted, unless the voter fails to address the issue (like showing ID at a later date).

Here is how the counting process is protected.

Ohio election officials begin processing mail-in ballots, verifying that all ballots are eligible to be counted as they are received. When polls close on Election Day, two staff from two different parties will start the tabulation process, and the first results publicized on Election night represent those votes cast through absentee and early voting.

But that is never the final count. Rolling updates on vote tallies will continue as ballots on Election Day are tabulated, and absentee ballots postmarked by November 2, will be counted if they are delivered by November 13. Ohio’s Secretary of State has committed to daily reporting of outstanding absentee totals so that the counting process is transparent.

While you may hear gripes about election fraud, know this: It is exceptionally rare. It is a point that Current Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, and his two immediate predecessors — a Republican and a Democrat — agree on.

ExploreElection 2020: Let us help answer your questions

But just to be sure, every county is required to conduct post-election audits to ensure accuracy.

But it all starts with you. Do your research at www.Vote411.org, make your voting plan, and follow through. Visit 866OurVote.org or call 866-OUR-VOTE to report problems or request assistance from the nonpartisan Election Protection coalition run by LWVO and our friends.

Now is the time to know your rights, make your voice heard, and keep calm until all the votes are tallied and certified.

Jen Miller is executive director of League of Women Voters of Ohio.

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