Voting while Quarantined: How to make sure your vote is counted in the 2020 primary election

COVID-19 has brought dramatic changes to our lives and our government. One of the major impacts the pandemic has had here in Ohio is on our primary election. Scheduled for March 17, in-person polling locations were closed via an order from Governor DeWine’s administration on March 16. 

In a series events fit for The West Wing, the DeWine administration lost a lawsuit in which they tried to move the in-person voting date to June 2nd, the Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit to set that date for April 28, and the Ohio Legislature finally came back from recess to “solve” the problem. The Legislature has extended the voting period to April 28th and has eliminated all in-person voting (with a few exceptions). This blog will try to sort fact from fiction and help you make sure that your voice is heard in our primary election. 

For most people, the only way you will be able to vote is by requesting an absentee ballot, filling out that ballot and returning it to your county’s Board of Elections before April 28. This means you need to act fast to ensure that your vote will be counted. 

Follow these three steps:

STEP ONE. Request your absentee ballot: You can do this in three ways. If you have access to a printer, request your ballot by filling out this form. If you do not have access to a printer, you can make your own form by simply going to that link and writing out all of the information on a black sheet of paper. Mail either the filled out form or your homemade form to your local county’s Board of Elections or drop it off at their office. You can also request your ballot by calling your local Board of Elections. The image below shows how to avoid some common mistakes made on the application form, so you don’t have to redo it.

You should receive your ballot within two weeks. If you don’t, call your Board of Elections as soon as possible to see what the holdup is. You can also track your ballot as the Secretary of State’s website here: Absentee ballot tracker tool

STEP TWO. VOTE! This is a primary election, so you are voting to decide who will represent your political party in the election in November. You can see a sample ballot here, so you know who and what you will be voting on. There are many resources that exist to help you decide where candidates stand on the issues that are important to you. Many of the incumbent candidates on your ballot were in office when we published our first Elected Official Scorecard, which can tell you where individuals stood on LGBTQ issues in 2018.

*Our 2018 scorecard is slightly out of date at this point, and we will be publishing a new edition this year, so explore other resources to help you decide, as well*

Great resources include:

Please remember to vote in as many races as your feel comfortable voting in. High profile races, like presidential and congressional elections are important, but we need pro-equality legislators at every level of government, especially in the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives, which have the power to pass the Ohio Fairness Act as well as harmful legislation, like the ban on medical care for LGBTQ youth or the ban on transgender athletes. 

STEP 3. RETURN YOUR BALLOT This needs to go back to your local Board of Elections. Postage for your ballot should be included in the material that they sent with your ballot. DO NOT REMOVE THE STUB FROM YOUR BALLOT WHEN YOU SEND IT IN!

Act fast, because it must be mailed and postmarked by April 27 (meaning, it has to be in the mail before April 28). If you make a mistake and need a new ballot, you can call your Board of Elections and ask for a new one, but remember, time is limited.

The only in-person voting that will be allowed is for those with disabilities who need accommodations and individuals experiencing homelessness who do not have access to the postal system. On 4/28, those voters will be able to vote in person at the Early Vote Centers, usually the same as your county Board of Elections. 

We continue to gain more and more momentum for LGBTQ equality at every level of government. The progress that we are able to make can only happen when Ohioans choose those who support the LGBTQ community at the ballot box. This election has to take place under less-than-ideal circumstances, and we have very little time to ensure that all votes are cast and counted. Share this information with your friends and family, and join us in our fight for lived and legal equality for LGBTQ Ohioans.

Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.