Early voting in Ohio: What you need to know to cast a ballot

Maria McGinnis Features editor

With Election Day less than a week away, time is ticking for voters to carry out their voting plans and make sure their ballots are cast correctly and on time.

Registered Ohioans have three options to cast a ballot in the election including voting in person on Election Day, voting by absentee ballot and voting early at designated early voting polling locations and boards of elections. Early voting in Ohio began on Oct. 6 and will continue until Nov. 2, the Monday before Election Day. 

According to The Washington Post, “66 million Americans have already cast their ballots for next week’s election, a historic figure that has upended expectations about Election Day.”

With days to spare until Election Day, although absentee ballot request forms will be accepted until noon on Oct. 31, it’s not likely that ballots will make it to voters in time for Election Day. For voters who already have their absentee ballot, to avoid ballots being delayed in the mail, voters can go to the board of elections to drop off their ballots in a designated dropbox. The Ohio Capital Journal has a list of each Ohio county and its dropbox location. 

Mike West, manager of the outreach department at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, said going to the polls to vote early in person is just like going to the polls on Election Day.

“You come in and show your ID, sign a poll book, you get a ballot, you vote the ballot, put it in the scanner and off you go,” he said. 

Terrie Nielsen, deputy director at the Portage County Board of Elections, said whether voters are coming to the board of elections to vote early or going to the polls on Election Day, not only should they bring their ID, but also a mask and their own pen if they want to. Pens used on ballots cannot be gel pens and must have blue or black ink. 

Although voters can cast their ballots before Election Day, their votes won’t be tallied until after polls close on Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Absentee ballots are the first votes to be counted after the polls close. 

“We are required to do our first and/or initial posting of Election Day results between 7:30 and 8 p.m. on Election Day,” Nielsen said. “So the only ballots we actually have at that point, because polls close at 7:30 p.m., are absentee ballots. So absentee ballots that we have in our possession by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day are part of the first results that get posted, so they actually get counted first.” 

West said when it comes to deciding how to vote, whether in person early or on Election Day or by mail, there aren’t really any pros or cons for either choice; it just comes down to what is most convenient for the voter. 

“People who want to vote by mail generally have thought it through and they try to get their applications in as soon as possible, because the sooner they get their applications in the sooner their ballot comes in the mail,” he said. “Some people, um, don’t want to put the ballot in the mail. So they come and drop it off at the board.” 

Voters here in Portage County can visit the Portage County Board of Elections at 449 South Meridian St., room 101 in Ravenna to vote early in person. Refer to the Portage County Board of Elections early in person voting schedule for dates and times to vote.

Maria McGinnis is a features editor. Contact her at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.