Tag: absentee ballot

Ohio Absentee Ballot — Confirming Rejected Ballot

I requested an absentee ballot this year — we’d used absentee ballots once back when we lived in Geauga county and delivered the ballots to the Board of Elections office, but we generally vote in person. I wanted Anya to experience the process (and they give out cute stickers!). But we’ll have more time to explore what the ballot actually is at home, and there won’t be a bunch of people about. But — and the one thing that makes me want to do the early in-person voting — they can reject your ballot if the signature doesn’t match. I didn’t have a problem with my absentee ballot request, but Scott’s got rejected for a signature mismatch. And that had be worried about my actual ballot.

But, amid all of Trump’s blathering last night? Biden managed to convey that a lot of states have a process for curing rejected absentee ballots. I had no idea. Per Ohio Rev Code ยง 3509.06:

“(b) If the election officials find that the identification envelope statement of voter is incomplete or that the information contained in that statement does not conform to the information contained in the statewide voter registration database concerning the voter, the election officials shall mail a written notice to the voter, informing the voter of the nature of the defect. The notice shall inform the voter that in order for the voter’s ballot to be counted, the voter must provide the necessary information to the board of elections in writing and on a form prescribed by the secretary of state not later than the seventh day after the day of the election. The voter may deliver the form to the office of the board in person or by mail. If the voter provides the necessary information to the board of elections not later than the seventh day after the day of the election and the ballot is not successfully challenged on another basis, the voter’s ballot shall be processed and counted in accordance with this section.”

Which means I’d be notified if my ballot is rejected, and I could go to the Board of Elections within seven days of the election to provide whatever sort of identification they need to be satisfied. A total of fifteen states provide a remediation path for signature challenges — details for those states at https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/vopp-table-15-states-that-permit-voters-to-correct-signature-discrepancies.aspx

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.