Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Ins and Outs of Ohio Voting

by Amanda Fondriest

Being an informed voter is important in every election. However, being informed is not merely a matter of knowing about the candidates and the ballot issues, voters also need to know about the voting process.

Registering to Vote
Ohio residents have until 9:00PM on October 6 to register to vote and have many options for how and where to do so. Registration forms can be filled out at any county board of elections office, the Secretary of State's office, any public high school or vocational school, offices of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, public libraries, offices of the county treasurer, and any offices that provide public assistance. The Athens County Board of Elections will remain open until 9:00PM on Monday for voter convenience.

Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey discusses places to register for the November election.

Because an original signature is required on all voter registration forms, Athens County Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey says, "you can download the form online, fill it out, and send it to [the Athens County Board of Elections]." The form can be downloaded at theAthens County Board of Elections website. Employees at the Board of Elections will accept mail-in voter registration forms through October 11, so long as they have an October 6 postmark.

William Biddlestone, a member of the Athens County Board of Elections, says that taking one's time is key to ensuring a successful registration. "The most important thing is to take your time and make sure it is filled out completely. The big mistakes people make when filling out their registration forms are failing to list their date of birth, their driver's license number, their social security number, and their signature," Biddlestone said.

Board of Elections Member William Biddlestone asks voters to take their time while registering.

Absentee Voting

Because of new legislation, Ohio now has what is called "no-fault" absentee voting. This means that this year voters can cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason. Absentee ballots can be cast beginning September 30 at 8:00AM.
Voters can request an absentee ballot on the Ohio Secretary of State's website.
Otherwise, the Athens County Board of Elections can assist registered voters with submitting their absentee ballot in multiple ways. Voters can cast their ballot at the Board of Elections office located at 15 South Court Street or by requesting a ballot by phone at (740)592-3201.

Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey explains absentee voting.

"Applying for an absentee ballot--you can do that up to November 1 at noon. We will be here that day. Any requests we get, we will send them out," Quivey said. Absentee ballots can be cast in person through November 3 at 4:00PM. The Board of Elections will be open Saturday November 1 from 8:00AM to noon for any last minute absentee voters.

Provisional Voting
Quivey urges voters who have changed either their name or address to register this change by October 6. Otherwise, they run the risk of being considered a provisional voter.

Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey reminds voters to register changes to name and address by the October 6 deadline.

Provisional voters, according to Quivey, are those who have missed the October 6 deadline for name and address changes. There is nothing wrong with voting provisionally; however, Quivey says that it does make voting more difficult for the voter. "You get caught having to fill out an envelope, waiting in longer lines. You take the chance of doing something wrong on your ballot. Really, you take the chance of your ballot not counting."

Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey describes the pitfalls of provisional voting.

Polling Locations
With nearly seventy polling locations in Athens County, it is important for voters to know where they are going. A complete list of polling locations can be found here. Check out our previous Athens MidDay story on changes in polling locations.

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