By Marc Kovac
More than 1.2 million Ohioans have already cast their votes in next week’s general election, with millions of additional ballots expected to be mailed or submitted in person through the end of the day Tuesday.
During an Election Day primer with reporters, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said he expected shorter lines at the polls, that county elections boards stand ready to deal with any weather or man-made incidents that could hinder voting, and that he hoped Ohioans would know by the end of the night who won the top-of-the-ballot races.
Here are five more things you should know before Election Day:
You can still cast your ballot before Tuesday. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. today; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.
Mail-in absentee ballots must be postmarked by Monday.
The regular polls will be open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Details on polling places and precincts is available online at MyOhioVote.com.
Upward of 1.3 million Ohioans out of 6.9 million who received applications have requested ballots. Of those, 950,544 had mailed their selections back to county elections boards as of late last week. The totals include ballots requested by those serving in the armed forces or living overseas.
Additionally, 306,776 eligible voters had cast early ballots in person. A total of about 1.7 million voters cast early ballots during the last presidential election in 2008.
Four years ago, 8.2 million Ohioans were registered to vote, and a total of about 5.8 million, or 70 percent, cast ballots, according to statistics compiled by the secretary of state’s office.
This year, 9 million Ohioans are registered to vote, and it’s a safe bet the largest percentage of those participating in the election will do so in person on Tuesday.
That could pose some complications for the 300,000-plus Ohioans who have received mail-in absentee ballots but who also attempt to vote on Election Day. Voters in that position will have to cast a provisional ballot, which won’t be counted until elections officials verify their mail-in ballots were not cast.
“We have tried to do everything within our authority to make it easy to vote, to help people cast a regular ballot, but ultimately this relies on voters,” Husted said. “There’s some personal responsibility required from the voters to cooperate with this process to follow through.”
Husted said county boards will submit total counts of such outstanding absentee and provisional ballots on election night, but final tallies of both will not be made until the official canvass more than a week later.
Husted said it is his expectation that Ohio will be able to declare winners on election night.
But those will be unofficial results and won’t include absentee ballots mailed but not yet received by county boards and provisional ballots that require verification.
A final count won’t be made until the official canvass, which starts Nov. 17, with final certification expected late this month or early next.
Depending on the margins in some races, the provisional and absentee ballots could swing the results. They could also trigger an automatic recount if the final differences between winners and losers are within a quarter or half percent.
Real-time results will be posted on the secretary of state’s website www.ohiosecretaryofstate.gov. County boards will begin counting absentee ballots as soon as the polls close Tuesday, with totals updated at regular intervals throughout the evening and early morning.
Voters and poll workers won’t be the only people hanging around precinct sites on Election Day.
Individuals who have registered in advance and been appointed as “observers” also will be in the vicinity, watching how the election is being administered.
Husted said such individuals are not allowed to interfere with the election process. They can’t talk to voters or poll-workers and will have to contact the secretary of state’s office or county election board offices to voice any concerns.
“They are people who are there to oversee the elections,” Husted said. “I’m for transparency. I hope we have observers in every polling place so they can see just how good the system of elections in Ohio is operating.”