Delaware County urges mail voters to respond quickly
Absentee ballot request forms for the Nov. 3 election are being mailed to Ohio's registered voters, who are urged to put their completed forms in the mail quickly.
"Don't wait. Mail in your request form today!" reads the letter from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose that accompanies the applications.
Elections officials in Delaware County are echoing the call for prompt response.
"We're encouraging people to go ahead and get them filled out and get them back," said Karla Herron, director of the Delaware County Board of Elections. "That way, if there's a problem, there's plenty of time to fix them, as well."
If someone were to wait to request an absentee ballot until Thursday or Friday before the election, "The possibility of getting it in time ... is very low. It really drops each day that goes by.
"The possibility of the mail delivering the ballot to the voter, the voter voting and either postmarking the day before the election or delivering it to our office by 7:30 (on) Election Night is just a really tight turnaround."
Many voters are taking to heart the advice to act quickly, Herron said.
In the county, she said, about 21,000 absentee ballot request forms had been mailed as of Sept. 2, and about 1,900 had been returned to the board of elections by Sept. 3.
The board of elections will start to mail absentee ballots after the Oct. 5 registration deadline for those not currently registered, Herron said.
LaRose wrote that voting absentee by mail is a convenient and secure option during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. He recommended that request forms be returned by Oct. 27.
The elections board's website says absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2 to be counted. Absentee ballots also may be carried to the board of elections, 2079 U.S. Route 23 N., by 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3, when the polls close.
Registered voters must provide identification at the polls, and the same is required by the absentee ballot request form.
Those returning the forms must give the last four digits of their Social Security number, their Ohio driver's license number or a copy of valid photo identification, military identification or a recent utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or any government check or document, not provided by the board of elections, that shows name and address.
Also after the voter registration deadline, the board of elections will begin 24 days of in-person "vote center" balloting at the elections board's offices.
Weekday hours for the vote center are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 6-9 and 12-16. Weekday hours will expand to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 19-23 and will expand further to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 26-30. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 2.
The vote center also will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 and 31, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1.
In addition to the request forms mailed by the secretary of state, Herron said, the board of elections has provided forms to fulfill requests by individuals, political campaigns and advocacy groups.
The elections board's website, vote.delawarecounty.ohio.gov, has a link for online voter registration and change of address.
A second mailing of absentee ballot request forms is planned for those who register before the Oct. 5 deadline, Herron said.
The polls will be open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3, and Herron said the board of elections is prepared for in-person voting.
"We have plenty of protective supplies and cleaning supplies," she said. "We will be ready to serve the public safely."
The website also has a link for those who want to sign up as poll workers.
Herron said some longtime poll workers, mostly older folks or those concerned about COVID-19, have decided to sit out this election.
"We understand that, and we've put word out as far as needing the additional help, and we are actually in really good shape," she said.
"Delaware County is the best. People here are willing to step forward for those that can't," Herron said. "We have recruited close to 1,000 people. Our goal is to have about 1,100. ... We want to make sure we have a lot of backups, as well, because as we get closer (to Election Day), if there would be any change in the virus -- if there would be spikes, or we would get additional orders from the governor -- that could change our procedures."
Despite the hundreds of willing volunteers, Herron said, the more who are ready to go, the better.
"We are right now in very good shape as far as recruiting and volunteers, but we can still use more," she said.
"We will be ready, prepared to assist our voters to vote safely by in-person absentee or in-person Election Day. We are prepared to hold Election Day no matter what is thrown at us," Herron said.
"We are used to improvising and adapting."