Ohio’s chief elections officer assured Akron Children’s Hospital employees that the Nov. 3 general election will be secure and trustworthy, and he encouraged voters to take advantage of early voting and mail-in (absentee) ballots.
Akron Children’s Hospital President and CEO Grace Wakulchik hosted a virtual conversation with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Sept. 21. Wakulchik is urging employees to exercise their right to vote.
LaRose outlined basics about voting in Ohio, as well as ballot security safeguards and steps being taken during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure voting is safe on Election Day.
Key dates to know:
• If you’re not registered to vote, you have until Oct. 5.
Go to voteohio.gov or your county elections board web site to check your registration or update your address if necessary.
• You can vote by mail, also known as absentee voting, starting Oct. 6.
The state has mailed absentee ballot applications to all Ohio voters. If you still need one, request it from your county elections board or go to voteohio.gov.
• Early in-person voting is another option. Starting Oct. 6, Ohio voters can go to their county elections board to cast ballots on weekdays and during some weekend hours.
Is the election trustworthy?
With security on the minds of many people, Wakulchik asked LaRose about widely circulated claims about election rigging.
Voting by mail, in particular, has been subject to criticism of widespread fraud, though there is no evidence of that.
LaRose said allegations undercutting the integrity of elections are false.
“If you want to vote absentee, it’s a safe and secure way to do it. It’s a way Ohioans from both major parties have trusted over the years,” he said.
“The voting is not rigged. The election is secure and trustworthy, and Ohioans know that.”
He also said every county elections board is structured for bipartisan oversight of all aspects of voting.
“It takes both a Republican and a Democratic election official to walk into the room, for example, where the machines are stored or the ballots are stored,” he said.
As for potential foreign interference, LaRose said foreign adversaries try to undermine our elections by spreading misinformation, but they cannot hack voting machines or disrupt the tally.
Plan your vote
LaRose urged employees to plan for 1 of the 3 voting options.
• He recommends early voting and absentee voting to avoid long lines at the polls on Election Day.
• If you vote by mail, get your ballot filled out and mailed as early as possible.
“We don’t want to have everybody wait till the end and overwhelm the boards of elections with an avalanche of mail that arrives at the end of October.”
• You can track your absentee ballot request and your ballot at voteohio.gov.
• Postage in most areas will be 1 first-class stamp. County boards of elections will also provide secure, 24-hour ballot drop boxes.
Can an absentee voter also vote on Election Day?
No. If you requested an absentee ballot and go to the polls anyway, you’ll be handed a provisional ballot. Your completed provisional ballot will be set aside. If it’s determined your absentee ballot was counted, the provisional ballot won’t count.
What to expect Election Day
Voters standing in line must be 6 feet apart, and they will be required to wear masks. Poll workers will have masks and shields.
Tony Gutowski, Akron Children’s director of government affairs, asked LaRose questions from employees, including one about protection for poll workers.
Polling locations will follow a 48-point checklist that covers everything from masks to cleaning and managing foot traffic.
If a voter doesn’t have a mask, poll workers will provide one. A voter who refuses to wear a mask will be asked to vote curbside, LaRose said.
You must verify your identity to vote. You can find identification requirements here.
LaRose said expired driver’s licenses will be accepted because of motor vehicle bureau backlogs due to the coronavirus.
When will results be in?
Wakulchik asked if we will know who won on election night.
That depends. The number of absentee ballot requests this year is unprecedented. Close to 1.8 million absentee ballot applications had been received by Ohio counties as of Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Many absentee ballots will still be out on Election Day – possibly a couple hundred thousand, LaRose said.
Absentee ballots can be counted up to 10 days after Election Day, provided they are postmarked by Nov. 2.
Outcomes of close races aren’t likely to be known on election night.
Even in normal times, final results are reported about 3 weeks after the election.
A final note
Elections boards need poll workers. It takes about 37,000 statewide to run an election, and LaRose said they are aiming for 55,000 to have backups.
You can learn more about recruitment efforts or sign up to be a poll worker here.
Watch a recording of the virtual event here.