Ohio Absentee Balloting Nuances

Ohio RC 3509.05 lists approved relatives who are able to deliver a ballot on behalf of another individual (spouse of the elector, the father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandfather, grandmother, brother, or sister of the whole or half blood, or the son, daughter, adopting parent, adopted child, stepparent, stepchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the elector). So I cannot deliver the ballot for my neighbors, but their kids can. That’s a firm ‘no’ on dropping off ballots for anyone who is not related to you a way listed in RC 3509.05 at the Board of Elections. I won’t get into the probability of enforcement — that’s something an individual would need to decide for themselves. If the ballot isn’t getting submitted any other way, might be worth the risk having an unauthorized person drop it off and having your vote invalidated. To me, the law precludes a mass effort to get people driving around and collecting ballots for a neighborhood and dropping those off at the Board of Elections. Same with dropping off bunch of ballots over at the Post Office closest to the Board of Elections — “elector shall mail” isn’t the same as “elector shall cause to be mailed”.

Ohio RC 3509.08 option where the Board of Elections drops off the ballot and picks it up is currently only for those confined to nursing homes and jails. So if you know someone who is in a nursing home or jail … they totally can request the Board of Elections bring them a ballot, wait while it is filled out {even fill out the ballot if the person is unable to do so themselves — I’m thinking of my great-grandmother who could barely write an “X” in the signature line near the end of her life} and bring that ballot back to be counted. That’s a pretty awesome level of service. And I get that they don’t have anywhere near enough staff to broaden that service.

What you *can* do is drop off a ballot for parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings, children, and nieces/nephews. So if you’ve got family members who don’t have time/resources/mobility/health to drop off the ballots in person, you can certainly collect *their* ballots and drop them off at the appropriate Board of Elections.

There also appears to be a remote ballot marking system available if you have a qualifying disability under ADA. (Cuyahoga and Medina). I’m e-mailing DeRose’s office and my local Ohio Congresspersons (“Member Search” in the lower left-hand corner of http://www.ohiohouse.gov/ for the House, https://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/district-map for the Senate) asking them to expand the availability of the 11-G absentee request. Anyone with COVID-like symptoms or asked to quarantine for potential exposure should be allowed to remotely mark their ballot too. It’s not the resource strain that offering in-person pick-up would be, and it allows people to ensure their vote is counted without risking heir health.

And if you request an absentee ballot but decide to vote in person instead, you can. You’ll need to submit a provisional ballot — this is to ensure you don’t both return an absentee ballot and vote in person.

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