Election 2020: Ohio has record-breaking month for absentee, early voting

Early voting lines at the Greene County Board of Elections Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Early voting lines at the Greene County Board of Elections Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

It’s been a record-breaking month for early and absentee voting in Ohio as voters continue to head to the polls to cast their vote.

With one week left until Election Day, Secretary of State Frank LaRose joined Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus press conference Tuesday to give Ohioans an update on the election.

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Since the state’s spring election, Ohio’s election officials created the Ready for November Task Force and had weekly meetings to prepare for the general election.

The state aimed to maximize early and absentee voting, which LaRose noted has been a “huge success.”

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“We have seen a doubling in the number of absentee ballots that we’ve seen in past years and we’ve seen it triple as far as early voting goes,” he said.

So far, 3.2 million Ohioans have requested an absentee ballot compared to 1.6 million four years ago.

“Today is effectively the last day to request your absentee ballot,” LaRose reminded Ohioans. “The law says you can wait until Saturday, but that’s a bad idea.”

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To request an absentee ballot, visit https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/how-to-request-your-absentee-ballot/ to print out a request form or follow instructions to make your own request form.

The state has received 1.5 million absentee ballots.

More than 750,000 Ohioans have voted early, LaRose said.

“That’s 2.5 times the number that we saw in 2016,” he said. “Ohioans are clearly enthusiastic.”

Two other goals the state had this year was to register as more voters and recruit more poll workers.

The state has surpassed 8 million registered voters and had 140,000 Ohioans sign up to work the polls. More than 50,000 people have been trained and ready to open polling locations next Tuesday, LaRose said.

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Ohio elections officials also worked with the state health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a 61-point health and safety plan so that poll workers and voters would feel safe.

Some of the guidelines include designating entrance and exit doors, social distancing, personal protective equipment for poll workers and worker and using door stops so people don’t have to touch doors.

“If you feel comfortable going to the grocery store you should feel comfortable coming to your polling location,” LaRose said.

LaRose also discussed how Ohio will report results on Nov. 3

The state reports every absentee, early and in-person vote received so far on Election. However, that’s not the final story, LaRose said.

“Because Ohio boards of elections have 10 days to receive ballots as long as they were mailed by Monday, Nov. 2,” he said. “As long as it’s a legal ballot it deserves to be counted.”

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The official election result is instead available a few weeks later.

To help give Ohioans an idea as to how many ballots are still out there, the state will report the number of outstanding absentee ballots on election night.

“That’ll give Ohioans a good sense of whether that’s a conclusive result they’re seeing on election night or not,” LaRose said.

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