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Ohio Voting Guide: What To Know About The 2020 Election

Originally published on March 16, 2020 11:29 pm

Update March 16: Ohio has closed polls Tuesday due to a public health emergency.

The 2020 election season is in full swing, and Ohio is back in the middle of the political fray. Early voting has begun in Ohio, with election day coming up soon in March—on St. Patrick’s Day.

WOSU put together a guide to help you navigate Ohio’s 2020 election, including information on how and where to vote, and a rundown of what you can expect on your ballot. This guide will be updated with new information throughout the year.

Here’s some key spring election dates to keep in mind:

  • Primary election voter registration deadline: Feb. 18, 2020
  • Early voting begins: Feb. 19, 2020
  • Primary election: March 17, 2020

Dates to know for the fall election:

  • General election voter registration deadline: Oct. 5, 2020
  • Early voting begins: Oct. 6, 2020
  • General election: Nov. 3, 2020

How Do I Register To Vote?

Make sure you’re registered to vote - or have updated your voter information - no later than 30 days before an election. The deadline to register for Ohio’s March primary is Feb. 18, 2020. 

You can now register to vote online through the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. But to do so, you must provide your name, date of birth, address, driver’s license or Ohio ID card number, and the last four digits of your Social Security number. 

Alternatively, you can print out this paper form, fill it out and deliver it to your county board of elections. Find where that's located here.

Where Do I Vote?

Early voting in Ohio kicks off on February 19, and ends March 16. You can either mail in your absentee ballot or vote in person at your county board of elections.

Polls open in Ohio at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. on March 17, 2020.

Your polling location varies depending on where you live, though it might not even be the closest station to you. Find your official polling location on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. There, you can also see a sample ballot with your options for federal, state and local races.

For the March primary, county boards of elections are moving polling places away from nursing homes and senior residential facilities due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Polling places will also now allow curbside voting on Election Day: Voters can drive up to polling stations and indicate they'd like to vote curbside, and poll workers will come to each car to process IDs, provide forms for either regular or provisional ballots, and then deliver those ballots back into the polling location.

For both traditional and curbside voting, any person in line by 7:30 p.m. must be permitted to vote.

(Have you ever wondered how polling locations are chosen? WOSU investigated this question as part of our Curious Cbus series.)

If you're voting absentee, be aware: To be counted in election night totals, your ballot must be received by your county board of elections by the time polls close. Your vote will still be counted in overall election tallies, however, if your ballot arrives by March 27, 2020.

However, if you are unforseeably confined or hospitalized, Ohio has ordered county board of elections to accept and process absentee ballot applications through 3 p.m. on Election Day.

Do I Need Voter ID?

Yes, but not necessarily a picture ID. First off, check here to make sure you're registered to vote and your information is up-to-date.

Ohio law requires you to bring a form of acceptable identification, which includes:

  • An unexpired Ohio driver’s license or state ID card with present or former address, as long as your present residential address is in the official list of registered voters for that precinct
  • A military ID
  • A photo ID issued by the United States government or the State of Ohio, that contains your name and current address, and that has not passed its expiration
  • An original or copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other document with your name and present address ("current" means in the last 12 months).

Check the entire list of acceptable IDs here.

If you do not bring an acceptable form of ID, or if your eligibility is in question, you can still vote using a provisional ballot. If you do that, you must go to your county board of elections within a week to provide that ID for your vote to be counted in the final election totals.

Below is a rundown of some of the major races and issues you'll see in Ohio's upcoming elections. Primary ballots will be officially certified by the Ohio Secretary of State on January 7, so some information may change.

Find your sample ballot here.

Presidential Primary

Ohio will likely have 11 names on the ballot for the presidential primary—10 Democrats and one Republican. But only a few of those candidates are still actively running.

The deadline for candidates to submit their paperwork to the Secretary of State was December 18, and those that qualified were officially certified on January 7.

You can find more WOSU and NPR coverage of each candidate by clicking on their names below.

President Donald Trump is seeking re-election to a second term. Although he faces primary challengers in other states, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld failed to have his petitions certified, so Trump will not have an opponent in Ohio.

On the Democratic side, you’ll have a choice between:

*indicates candidate suspended campaign, but will still appear on the Ohio primary ballot and votes for them will be counted

**indicates candidates suspended campaign and will appear on the Ohio ballot, but votes for them will be void

Some of these candidates have dropped out of the presidential race before Ohio's election begins, but will still appear on the ballot and have their votes counted.

The primary election season began on February 3 with the Iowa causus, with New Hampshire voting the week after. By the time Ohio’s in-person primary arrives on March 17, 60% of the nation’s delegates will have already been awarded. Fourteen states, including California and Texas, vote on Super Tuesday on March 3, and another six vote the next week.

Bennet and Patrick suspended their campaigns following the New Hampshire primary, while Steyer, Buttigieg and Klobuchar suspended theirs after the South Carolina primary. Bloomberg and Warren suspended their campaigns after Super Tuesday.

But the seven candidates agove missed Ohio's February 6 withdrawal date, so they'll still appear in the Ohio primary election. All votes for them will still be counted.

Booker suspended his campaign before February 6, so while he'll still appear on the Ohio ballot, voters will receive notices that votes for him will be void.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney were disqualified for Ohio's Democratic ballot for failing to submit a complete petition. Delaney dropped out of the race in January. Yang was certified as a write-in candidate, then suspended his campaign after the New Hampshire primary.

U.S. House

The presidency isn't the only federal-level election happening this year. All 16 of Ohio's congressional seats are also up for grabs in 2020.

Currently the delegation is occupied by 12 Republicans and four Democrats, and although Ohio's legislature approved a plan to redraw the Congressional map, that won't impact any election until 2022.

The deadline for candidates to submit their paperwork to the Secretary of State was December 18, and those that qualified were officially certified by county boards of elections on December 30.

Here's a rundown of the primary candidates in each of Ohio's districts.

1st District

  • Republican Steve Chabot (incumbent)
  • Democrat Nikki Foster
  • Democrat Kate Schroder
  • Libertarian Kevin David Kahn

2nd District

  • Republican Brad Wenstrup (incumbent)
  • Republican H. Robert Harris
  • Democrat Jaime Castle

3rd District

  • Democrat Joyce Beatty (incumbent)
  • Democrat Morgan Harper
  • Republican Cleophus Dulaney
  • Republican Mark Richardson

4th District

  • Republican Jim Jordan (incumbent)
  • Democrat Shannon Freshour
  • Democrat Mike Larsen
  • Democrat Jeffrey Sites
  • Libertarian Steve Perkins

5th District

  • Republican Bob Latta (incumbent)
  • Democrat M. Xavier Carrigan
  • Democrat Gene Redinger
  • Democrat Nick Rubando

6th District

  • Republican Bill Johnson (incumbent)
  • Republican Kenneth Morgan
  • Democrat Shawna Roberts

7th District

  • Republican Bob Gibbs (incumbent)
  • Democrat Patrick Quinn

8th District

  • Republican Warren Davidson (incumbent)
  • Republican Edward Meer
  • Democrat Vanessa Enoch
  • Democrat Matthew Guyette

9th District

  • Democrat Marcy Kaptur (incumbent)
  • Democrat Peter Rosewicz
  • Republican Tim Connors
  • Republican Charles W. Barrett
  • Republican Timothy Corrigan
  • Republican Rob Weber

10th District

  • Republican Michael Turner (incumbent)
  • Republican Kathi Flanders
  • Republican John Anderson
  • Democrat Eric Moyer
  • Democrat Desiree Tims

11th District

  • Democrat Marcia Fudge (incumbent)
  • Democrat James Jerome Bell
  • Democrat Tariq Shabazz
  • Democrat Michael Hood
  • Republican Jonah Schulz
  • Republican Laverne Gore
  • Republican Shalira Taylor

12th District

  • Republican Troy Balderson (incumbent)
  • Republican Tim Day
  • Democrat Alaina Shearer
  • Democrat Jenny Bell

13th District

  • Democrat Tim Ryan (incumbent)
  • Republican Christina Hagan
  • Republican Duane Hennen
  • Republican Lou Lyras
  • Republican Robert Santos

14th District

  • Republican David Joyce (incumbent)
  • Republican Mark Pitrone
  • Democrat Hillary O'Connor Mueri

15th District

  • Republican Steve Stivers (incumbent)
  • Republican Shelby Hunt
  • Democrat Daniel Kilgore
  • Democrat Joel Newby

16th District

  • Republican Anthony Gonzalez (incumbent)
  • Democrat Aaron Paul Godfrey
  • Democrat Ronald Karpus III

Ohio Supreme Court

There won't be many statewide votes this election, with the exception of two Ohio Supreme Court seats.

Republicans Judith French and Sharon Kennedy are both seeking re-election to another six-year term on the state's highest court. Currently, five of the court's seven judges are Republicans. 

French faces a Democratic challenger in Jennifer Bruner, a former Ohio Secretary of State and current judge on Ohio's 10th District Court of Appeals.

Kennedy will face Democrat John P. O'Donnell, currently a judge on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

Those four candidates will be listed in their respective party primaries in March. However, general elections for Ohio Supreme Court seats are technically nonpartisan, so the candidates won't appear with party designations come November.

Now WOSU wants to hear from you.

Maybe you’ve already made your decision on who you're supporting in this year's elections, but many people in Ohio remain undecided. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or somewhere in the middle, WOSU wants your input: What is the biggest issue on your mind in 2020, and why does it matter to you?

Submit your response to that question below, and WOSU may get in touch for a future story.

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