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Absentee Ballots

Vote By Mail / Absentee

Before Election Day: Voting by absentee ballot

When does Vote by Mail / Absentee voting begin and end?

Vote by Mail / Absentee voting begins 25 days before the presidential primary and 35 days before the general election and – except for voters hospitalized due to emergencies ends the day before the election. (Note: Vote by Mail / Absentee voting does not always begin 35 days before a special election. You may contact your county board of elections to learn if a special election is being held in your precinct and, if so, when Vote by Mail / Absentee ballots will be available.)
Once Vote by Mail / Absentee ballots are available for voting, any voter may receive and return an Vote by Mail / Absentee) ballot in person at the county board of elections office, or receive and return the Vote by Mail / Absentee) ballot by U.S. Mail.

Who is eligible to vote a Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot?

Any qualified Ohio voter may request and vote an Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot without stating a reason.

What is the application process for obtaining an Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot?

Ohio law provides separate application processes for different classifications of Vote by Mail / Absentee voters (militia, armed services, overseas, etc.). In all cases, Vote by Mail / Absentee ballots must be applied for in writing. If you are properly registered to vote, you must submit your written request to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located. Your request must contain certain information (described in the following sections) and your original signature. You may, but are not required to, use an application form prescribed by the Ohio Secretary of State.

If you are not an active duty member of Ohio’s organized militia (including the Ohio Air National Guard, Ohio Army National Guard, Ohio Naval Militia, and Ohio Military Reserve), an active duty member of the U.S. armed services serving outside of Ohio, or a U.S. citizen residing outside of the U.S., you are considered a “regular” absentee voter.


How to Vote Vote by Mail
/ Absentee

Electors do not have to state a reason to request and vote a Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot. However, every application for a Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot must satisfy all the requirements set forth in Ohio Revised Code. The application need not be in any particular form but shall contain the following:

  • The elector’s name
  • The elector’s signature
  • The address at which the elector is registered to vote
  • The elector’s date of birth
  • One of the following:

    • The elector’s driver’s license number;
    • The last four digits of the elector’s social security number;
    • Copy of a current and valid photo identification, a military identification, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document (other than a voter registration notification mailed by a Board of Elections) that shows your name and current address;
  • A statement identifying the election for which the absent voter’s ballots are requested;
  • A statement that the person requesting the ballot is a qualified elector;
  • If the request is for a primary election, the elector’s party affiliation;
  • If the elector desires ballots to be mailed to the elector, the address to which those ballots shall be mailed.

The board of elections will notify the applicant by mail if any required information is missing.

Vote by Mail / Absentee Deadlines

To receive your Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot:

  1. By mail: Unless you are a member of the U.S. armed forces, you must mail your properly completed Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot application bearing your original signature to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located. The board must receive your request by noon on the Saturday before the election. However, you should submit your request as far in advance of the election as possible.
  2. By fax: If you are a member of the U.S. armed forces or an organized state militia, you may fax your Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot request to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located. The board must receive your request by noon on the Saturday before the election. You may request that the board fax your ballot to you, but you must return your marked ballot by mail.
  3. In person: You may go to the board of elections office of the county in which your voting residence is located during regular business hours after absentee ballots are available for voting, but no later than the day before the election, and request, receive and vote your ballot at the board office.
  4. If you or your minor child is in the hospital on Election Day: Regardless of where you or your minor child are hospitalized, you must submit a properly completed and signed request to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located by 3 p.m. on Election Day. To be eligible under this provision, you or your minor child must be confined in a hospital because of an unforeseeable medical emergency. Your application must specify where, why and when you or your minor child came to be hospitalized. If you or your minor child are hospitalized in the same county where you are registered to vote, two representatives of the board of elections can deliver the ballot to you, wait while you mark the ballot, and return your voted ballot to the board office. Additionally, you may include in your absentee ballot application a request that your county board of elections give your unmarked ballot to a designated relative – your spouse, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandfather, grandmother, brother, sister, son, daughter, adopted parent, adopted child, stepparent, stepchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece – who shall deliver the ballot to you in the hospital and return your voted ballot to the board office.

For your Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot to be counted, it must be received as follows:

  1. If cast from anywhere in the U.S. and you return it by mail, it must be postmarked* (the day before the election) and received by the board of elections no later than 10 days after the election. If you return it in person or if a near relative delivers it to the board for you, it must be delivered to the board of elections no later than the close of polls on Election Day. 
  2. If you are a voter outside the U.S. on Election Day, your ballot envelope must be signed and postmarked by the close of polls on Election Day and received by your county board of elections not later than the 20th day after the presidential primary election or by the 10th day after a special or general election.
  3. If returned in-person to the board of elections, absentee ballots must be received at your local county board of elections on Election Day by 7:30 p.m. (the close of the polls).

    * Postmarked does not include a date marked by a postage evidence system such as a postage meter.

Reasons for rejecting Vote by Mail / Absentee ballots

A board of elections in determining whether to count an Vote by Mail / Absentee ballot must apply the rules set forth in Ohio Revised Code 3509.07.

Thus, a vote shall not be accepted or counted if election officials find that:

  • the statement accompanying an absentee voter’s ballot is insufficient, or
  • the signatures do not correspond with the person’s registration signature, or
  • the applicant is not a qualified elector in the precinct, or
  • the ballot envelope contains more than one ballot of any one kind, or any voted ballot that the elector is not entitled to vote, or
  • Stub A is detached from the absent voter’s ballot, or
  • the elector has not included with the elector’s ballot any identification required as referenced in item “E” above.
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