Ohio voter drop boxes are shaping up to play an important role in the election process this fall.
Each of Ohio’s 88 counties will feature one drop box and they can be used for more than just dropping off completed ballots.
The 88 county boards of election offices must all have their drop boxes installed by Sept. 1, offering 24/7 access to Ohio voters through Election Day on Nov. 3.
For citizens not already registered to vote, they have the option of dropping off a voter registration form to their county’s box. The deadline to register in order to vote in the November General Election is Monday, Oct. 5. Blank forms are available online or at a variety of public offices. (Citizens can also register to vote online.)
For those registered and wanting to vote by mail, absentee ballot applications can be dropped off to these boxes. They can also be mailed to your county board of elections office. Blank applications are available online, and they will also be mailed out to every registered voter this fall.
Once the application is submitted and processed, the county will send you a blank absentee ballot to fill out. As with the applications, they can be dropped off in the box or mailed back.
A directory of county board of elections offices is available here. These addresses are where the drop boxes are located.
As of now, each county has only one drop box. The Ohio Democratic Party announced a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to allow counties to install multiple boxes for the fall.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose wants approval from the Ohio Controlling Board to use up to $3 million from his office’s budget to pay for absentee ballot postage. As the Ohio Capital Journal has reported, LaRose’s office missed a deadline for this request to be considered during the board’s meeting this past Monday. The next meeting is set for mid-September.
Voter rights groups as well as Ohio Democrats have sought prepaid postage for applications and ballots alike. With the latest delay for approved funding, though, it appears Ohioans will be on the hook for paying postage on at least their absentee applications.
Now there is worry the September approval might be too late to secure paid postage ahead of ballots being sent out in early October.
“I definitely think the timing is concerning,” said Katy Shanahan, director of All on the Line Ohio, an advocacy group tied to the Democratic Party.
On an election security forum held Monday evening, Ohio Democrats’ Voter Protection Director Gretchen Bennett also shared concerns the delay could lead to no paid postage this fall.
But Maggie Sheehan, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State office, told the Ohio Capital Journal the belief is it will not be too late.
Regarding the funding approval delay, Sheehan said: “(T)hat creates an even tighter timeline between the potential approval from the Controlling Board and Oct. 6 when ballots begin to go out, but we are confident that boards can get that done if approved.”
Poll workers needed
Ohio is still in need of more citizens to sign up as poll workers this fall.
Some visitors to the Ohio Secretary of State website are being greeted with a pop-up advertisement encouraging them to register.
You can learn more information and register to help this fall by clicking here.
Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism. Read more Ohio Capital Journal stories here.