Everything you need to know to vote early or on Election Day on Nov. 3

Posted at 12:46 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 13:47:30-04

CLEVELAND — Election Day is on Tuesday, Nov. 3 – 61 days from now. Here is everything you need to know to vote in Ohio.

Key Dates:

Sept. 18: Military and overseas absentee voting begins. Details below.

Oct. 5: Deadline to register to vote. County boards of elections open until 9 p.m. Details on registering below.

Oct. 6: Absentee voting by mail and early in-person voting begins. Details on both of these voting methods below.

Oct. 31: Noon deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail.

Nov. 2: Absentee ballots must be postmarked by this date to be counted.

Nov. 3: Election Day. Polls are open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and absentee ballots may be dropped off at your county’s board of elections.

Registering to Vote

Click here to see if you are currently registered to vote.

Click here to register to vote. You will need to provide the following:

  • Ohio driver’s license or Ohio identification card number
  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Last four digits of your Social Security number

You can also print and fill out this form, then mail it to your county’s board of elections. Find the address of your board of elections here.

The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 3 General Election is Oct. 5.

Voting Options

Absentee voting by mail:

Is there a difference between absentee voting and voting by mail? In Ohio, no there is not.

Those who wish to vote absentee by mail should follow these steps:

1. Complete an absentee ballot request form. Keep an eye on your mailbox — this week, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office is sending absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters. You can also request a form online from the state or your local elections board using the links below.

2. Once you’ve filled out the form, print and sign it.

3. Mail the request form to your local board of elections. The address for your local board can be found here.

4. Wait to receive your absentee ballot from your county board of elections. You can track the status of your ballot here.

5. Return your voted ballot by mail or by delivering it in person to your local elections board.

All Ohio voters whose registration information is up-to-date may request and mail in an absentee ballot. Absentee voting begins on Oct. 6.

You can fill out an online request to have an absentee ballot application mailed to you here.

You can also fill and print out the application here, then mail it your county’s board of elections. Find the address of your board of elections here.

Below are links to request an absentee ballot for the boards of elections in the News 5 viewing area in Northeast Ohio. Note that some boards of elections direct you to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to fill out and return the application linked above.

Cuyahoga County | Summit County | Stark County | Lake County | Lorain County | Medina County | Geauga County | Portage County | Ashtabula County | Wayne County: Absentee ballot informationAbsentee ballot status search | Ashland County: Absentee ballot request - Absentee ballot status | Erie County | Richland County| Holmes County | Huron County | Tuscarawas County | Carroll County: Absentee ballot request - Absentee ballot status

Absentee ballots will be mailed out once the absentee and early in-person voting period starts on Oct. 6.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 31 at noon.

To be counted, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2, the day before election day.

The Secretary of State’s office provided this advice to ensure that your absentee ballot is properly postmarked:

If you are returning your voted ballot by mail during the week before Election Day, you should take it to USPS no later than the day before Election Day and ensure it receives a postmark as follows:

  • If you use a postage label purchased at a USPS customer service window or vending machine, the date on the label is the postmark. This is the USPS-recommended way to postmark your ballot.
  • If you use postage stamps, ask that it be postmarked.

You should not use a postage meter or an online service (such as to affix postage.

It is your responsibility to make sure the ballot has enough postage.

If you return your ballot to your local board of elections in person, the board must receive it no later than 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. A near-relative may deliver the ballot for you, but according to the Secretary of State’s office, they must be: “the voter’s spouse or the voter’s father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandfather, grandmother, brother, or sister of the whole or half blood, or the son, daughter, adopting parent, adopted child, stepparent, stepchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece.

Early in-person voting

Starting the day after voter registration ends — Oct. 6 — all registered voters may request an absentee ballot in person at their county’s board of elections or early voting center. Voters can fill out their absentee ballot or drop off a completed absentee ballot there. Most counties conduct early voting at their board of elections. Two Ohio counties have separate early voting centers:

While there was a push from some groups to set up additional secure drop boxes for absentee ballots, LaRose said that those decisions would have to be made by the legislature, which has not yet happened.

"Would I like the state legislature to weigh in on the addition of more drop boxes for county boards of elections? I absolutely would. This is something that I think would be a great convenience going forward in the future but this is not something that we should do again in the 53 days before early voting begins in Ohio,” he said.

While masks are required in all indoor public spaces in the state under the Ohio Department of Health’s mask mandate, LaRose said that his office and those working at election centers in Ohio are not in a position to enforce that mandate.

“But we are not the enforcement authorities for the mask mandate our elections officials are not there to enforce mask mandate it's just not our job,” LaRose said. “I mean listen if somebody shows up shoeless and shirtless we're not going to turn them away either. It's common sense you shouldn't do that especially in November in Ohio but we're not going to prohibit you we're not going to disenfranchise you as a result of that."

Election Day voting

Those who wish to vote in-person on Election Day on Nov. 3 will be able to do so, and as always, polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

To find your polling location, use this map and enter your address.

Note that in some counties, including Cuyahoga County (as of Sept. 3), polling locations have not yet been finalized. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections states they will be finalized by Sept. 4.

As with voting at a board of election early, voters will be required to wear masks inside their polling locations on election day.

If someone comes into a polling place on Election Day without a mask they will first be offered one, and if they decline they will be asked if they want to vote curbside which would be outside, LaRose said. If they decline that option, the goal of election officials will be simply to get the person processed and have them vote as soon as possible so as not to prolong their time indoors.

Voters will also be required to maintain a six-foot distance from each other while in line to vote.

More information

Find the latest reports and updates on local and state election news here.

Head to the Secretary of State’s website for more resources, forms, links, calendars and more.