With Friday’s signature by Gov. Mike DeWine on a statewide coronavirus relief measure, the Ohio legislature established April 28 as the new date for the postponed primary election.
Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, David Tolliver, Highland County board of elections administrator, said that the primary won’t involve any in-person voting unless they fall into two special qualifications, and that if voters want their voices to be heard they’ll have to mail in a ballot by the election date.
“The ballot would have to be postmarked by April 27, or be delivered here to our office by 7:30 p.m. on April 28,” he said.
For an elector who didn’t cast a ballot in the aborted March 17 election but who was registered to vote by the Feb. 18 deadline, vote-by-mail ballot requests must be made by noon on April 25 at the latest, postmarked by April 27 and received at the local board of elections office by April 28.
Tolliver said that voters who participated in early voting did not need to request a new ballot, as those already received by mail or in-person would be included for this election.
Voters can obtain absentee ballots three ways:
• Voters can download applications for absentee ballots from the Highland County Board of Elections website at www.boe.ohio.gov/highland, and after printing it off, mail it to the board of elections office.
• Email a request for the absentee application to highland@OhioSoS.gov and include name, mailing address, contact information and number of applications needed.
• If a person doesn’t have the ability to print off the application or send an email, Tolliver recommended calling the board of elections office at 937-393-9961 to request an application to be mailed to them.
Applications and ballots may be returned by mail, or by dropping them off in the board of elections drop box, which is planned for installation Tuesday or Wednesday outside of the BMV office at the Hi-Tech Center in Hillsboro.
LaRose’s order requires the drop box, described as a secure receptacle, to be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and further dictates that at least one Republican and one Democrat must together retrieve its contents daily.
The boards of elections must also retrieve the contents at 7:30 p.m. on April 28 at the conclusion of the election.
Due to concerns over coronavirus spread, the board of elections office is not open for in-person business.
The directive that was sent out to all boards of election statewide only distinguishes two types of voters who can cast their vote in person – those that have a qualifying disability and those who for whatever reason can’t receive mail where they live, or at another location.
According to instructions that came from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, an elector who falls into one of those two catagories, and who wishes to cast an absentee ballot using a direct recording electronic voting machine or marking device, may do so at their board of elections office between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 28.
Voters with a qualifying disability who want to use the remote ballot marking system may submit Secretary of State Form 11-G, or other written application for an absentee ballot by noon on April 25.
Each board must have at least one such machine or device available for use at the board of elections, the order stated, that is accessible for voters with disabilities, including non-visual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired so that they can have the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, as for other voters.
His office advised that those boards should follow social distancing, voting machine disinfection, hand hygiene, and all other directions in accordance with public health authorities and voting machine manufacturer guidelines.
Additionally, boards were encouraged to work with advocacy groups that represent disabled and homeless populations in their county to help inform them of the limited in-person voting opportunity that will only be on April 28.
LaRose’s directive went on to say that additionally, the local board of elections must provide a provisional ballot to any qualifying voter who chooses to vote in person and is required to receive a provisional ballot.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571