CLEVELAND — With more Ohioans than ever expected to vote absentee in the 2020 presidential election, it's important to know what mistakes to avoid when sending in absentee ballots.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has told county officials to expect up to half of all votes in the presidential election to be sent in by mail, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When sending your ballot back by mail, there are common errors that can get your ballot disqualified, and if your county Board of Elections can't reach you in time to correct those errors, your voice may not be heard despite your best intentions.
To help you make sure your vote is counted, here's a step-by-step guide to filling out and sending in your absentee ballot in Ohio:
Inspect your absentee ballot
Make sure your ballot doesn't have any marks or tears, and that the stub at the bottom of the ballot remains attached. If there are marks or tears, or the stub becomes detached, contact your county Board of Elections for a replacement ballot.
Use the right pen
Absentee ballots and identification envelopes can only be filled out using blue or black ink. There are no exceptions.
Package your ballot correctly
Fill out your ballot and place it inside the identification envelope, which is filled out completely and signed using your usual signature which matches the one on file with your county Board of Elections. You must fill in your name, address, birth date and identity information, along with your signature.
Then, place the sealed identification envelope inside the return envelope, which doesn't include any identifying information about you.
Use proper postage
Absentee ballots require varying amounts of postage depending on where you live, because some ballots may require multiple pieces of paper. In some parts of Cuyahoga County, for example, 70 cents in postage is required to mail your ballot back. This means if you live in one of these areas and you're using Forever stamps, you'll need to place two on the return envelope.
Meet the deadlines
Officials say it's best to return your absentee ballot as soon as possible. In Ohio, you technically have through November 2 to mail a ballot in, but if you wait that long be sure to go into a post office to have your ballot date stamped to prove it was in the mail on time. As long as your ballot is mailed by November 2, and arrives at your county Board of Elections by November 13, it will be counted. You can track your ballot at VoteOhio.gov/track.
You also have the option to drop your absentee ballot off in person at your county Board of Elections through 7:30 p.m. on November 3.
Make it count, Ohio!