COLUMBUS — As part of an ongoing mission to ensure it is both easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio, Secretary of State Jon Husted today announced that absentee ballot applications for November’s General Election will be mailed later this month to Ohio voters and start arriving in mailboxes around Labor Day.
By simply completing the required information and returning the application to their county board of elections, voters can have their ballots mailed to them, giving them up to four weeks to cast a ballot without ever leaving home. Aside from states that vote exclusively by mail, Ohio goes to greater lengths to make it as easy and fair for all voters to cast ballots by mail prior to Election Day than any other state.
“Many of our surrounding states give voters one day – Election Day – to vote. This fall, from the comfort of their own homes, every Ohioan will have 24 hours a day, seven days a week to cast their ballot,” Secretary Husted said. “Our successful vote-by-mail program represents one of the many ways we have made it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio.”
This year’s statewide mailing marks only the second time since Ohio’s no-fault absentee voting law was adopted in 2006 that all eligible voters with a current address will receive an application to vote by mail. The first mailing, also conducted during Secretary Husted’s administration, was sent out prior to the 2012 Presidential Election. That year, a record-setting 1.87 million voters (1.26 million by mail, 600,500 in person) ultimately cast a ballot prior to Election Day, representing one out of three ballots cast in Ohio that year.
In past elections, only a few boards of elections sent absentee ballot applications to voters in their counties. This led to a disparity in access and opportunity from county to county, which Secretary Husted has worked to address whether the voter chooses to vote early by mail or in person.
“Our commitment to treating all voters fair and equally, regardless of where a person lives in the state, gives every Ohioan the same access to the ballot,” Secretary Husted said. “The statewide mailing will also help reduce the chance of longs lines at the polls on Election Day.”
Secretary Husted wants to make sure all Ohio voters have adequate time to cast and return their ballots, and to give boards of elections as much lead time as possible to process absentee ballot applications prior to the start of the absentee voting period. To that end, the statewide mailing will go out in two installments:
· The first, which will go out to more than six million people, will cover active voters, as well as any voter who cast a ballot in the 2010 or 2012 statewide elections, even if they haven’t participated since. The voter must have had a current address on file with the board of elections as of August 1st of this year.
· The second mailing will be sent in early October to include those who register to vote or update their voting information after August 1st.
“We encourage any voter who has moved since the last time they voted to update their voter registration using the convenient online change of address system at www.MyOhioVote.com,” Secretary Husted said. “This will ensure they can take advantage of this year’s vote-by-mail program.”
For security reasons, applications will be personalized to each registered voter at the voting address they have on file. Voters must complete the forms by providing valid identification (either their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number or by returning a copy of a qualifying form of identification), their date of birth and signature before returning the ballot request form to their county board of elections in the return envelope provided.
To vote by mail, voters must complete and mail or drop off their applications to their local boards of elections no later than noon on Saturday, Nov. 1. The application provided in the mailing may also be dropped off at the voter’s board of elections to vote early in person from the start of absentee voting through the Monday before the election. If they change their mind and go to the polls after having requested an absentee ballot, they will have to vote provisionally.
The estimated cost for the mailing is $1 million and will be paid for using funds provided for through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). In 2012, the total cost for the statewide mailing was $1.4 million.
For more information about the 2014 election, visit www.MyOhioVote.com.