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(Voter info below.) Before 2004, there was one way to vote in Ohio. You signed in on voting day, punched your ballot, saw it dropped into the ballot box, and walked away knowing you'd done your duty. Since then, a series of Republican moves to hamper voters countered by Democratic moves to help voters, has brought changes.

In 2004, Secretary of State, and Bush-Cheney Ohio campaign chairman, Ken Blackwell oversaw a presidential election with such hindrances as too few voting machines, Republican vote challengers, denial and rejection of provisional ballots, and many hours-long lines, mostly in big cities and college towns. The next year citizens petitioned for ballot issues to prevent recurrence of such troubles. One of the issues would have let any voter get an absentee ballot without giving a reason. Though the issue later failed, it seemed to prompt the Republican General Assembly to head it off by passing it, but with an ID requirement.

In 2006, Republicans passed more voting restrictions to require ID, hamper voter registration drives, eliminate the random audit of voting machines, and hamper or ban contests of election results. And last year Ohio Republicans passed a law to pare back early voting, allow poll workers to neglect helping a voter to the right precinct table and ban elections boards from mailing out absentee ballot requests. But citizens petitioned to repeal that law. And facing a strong chance that the repeal would pass, state house Republicans, making history, repealed their own law just to keep voters from doing it. Still, the Republicans kept a little something of their anti-voting law: the ban of early voting the week-end before Election Day. Having also been passed in a separate law, that ban stayed on the books. But Democrats brought a court challenge, and a federal judge threw out the week-end voting ban. (Update: Republicans appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost.)

In another move to hamper voters, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted issued tie-breaking votes against longer early voting hours in Democratic-leaning counties, while some Republican-leaning counties had already voted for the longer hours. But after an outcry by Democrats and newspapers, Husted issued uniform hours for all 88 counties, though with less after-work and weekend hours than some counties had in 2008. Also, Husted issued a ban on county boards of elections mailing out absentee ballot requests. So the Cuyahoga County Council voted to do the job itself. With no authority to stop it, and facing the prospect of having just heavily-Democratic Cuyahoga County mailing absentee ballot requests, Husted had his own office mail them out to all registered voters in the state.

After all these changes, there are more ways to vote in Ohio. But you can still walk away -- from polling place, elections office or mail box -- knowing you've done your duty.

Ohio Voter Information

  1. CLICK HERE to fill in an online registration form, and print it out.
  2. Sign and date the form.
  3. Put the form in an envelope and address it to your county elections board. CLICK HERE for the address.
  4. Stamp and mail the envelope so that it is postmarked by October 9th. Note: A postage meter mark won't work – use a stamp.

  • Register in person: You can also register in person at many places, including any public library, any BMV office, many city halls, and boards of education or high schools.
  • Confirmation: Within 20 days of registering, the county board of elections will mail you a postcard stating where your polling place is. Also, the secretary of state will mail you an absentee ballot request form.
  • Check your registration: If you received an an absentee ballot request form from the secretary of state, it should serve to verify that you are registered. Or you can CLICK HERE for a search form to check that you are registered. If the online search does not find your registration, call your county elections board to check -- CLICK HERE for the phone number.
  • How to vote: You can vote by absentee ballot, early in person or on election day.
  • Absentee Ballot: You can vote an absentee ballot by mail without giving a reason. Mail your ballot to the county elections board by Noon Saturday, November 3rd (to be postmarked by Monday, November 5th), or drop off your ballot at the elections board during open hours on any day up until the polls close on election day. If you did not get an absentee ballot, check your registration. To request an absentee ballot, CLICK HERE for the request form, fill it in and mail it to your elections board -- CLICK HERE for the address. NOTE: Once you request an absentee ballot, you must vote that absentee ballot, and can no longer vote a regular ballot, neither early nor on election day. (Though you could vote a provisional ballot, which gets counted last.)
  • Early In-Person Voting: You can vote early in person at your board of elections (or maybe another site -- call to check) from October 2nd through November 5th, as follows:
  • Oct 2 - 5 (Tue - Fri): 8 to 5
  • Oct 9 (Tue): 8 to 9
  • Oct 10 - 12 (Wed - Fri): 8 to 5
  • Oct 15 - 19 (Mon – Fri): 8 to 5
  • Oct 22 – 26 (Mon – Fri): 8 to 7
  • Oct 29 – Nov 1 (Mon to Thr): 8 to 7
  • Nov 2 (Fri): 8 to 6
  • Nov 3 (Sat): 8 to 2
  • Nov 4 (Sun): 1 to 5
  • Nov 5 (Mon): 8 to 2

  • Election Day: Vote at your polling place. Election day is Tuesday, November 6th, voting hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bring your driver’s license or a document showing your voter registration address, such as a utility bill.
  • Contribute: You can contribute to state candidates and get your money back as a credit on your Ohio income tax — up to $50 filing singly, or $100 filing jointly. The credit applies to  all state-wide candidates, including those for the Ohio Supreme Court (but not the U.S. Senate), and to state legislative candidates.

(From The Paragraph.) [Sources & Notes] (Click for FREE BOOK.)

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By Quinn Hungeski,, Copyright (CC BY-ND) 2012

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