By Marc Kovac
The early voting period for the May 6 primary starts Tuesday, with more than a month for eligible Ohioans to cast ballots in person or mail them to county elections boards.
Residents still have about a week to register — and cast ballots during what will be the state’s final so-called Golden Week — or to update their information in advance of Election Day.
Here are some things you should know going into the primary election season:
Register: The deadline for registering to participate in the May 6 election is April 7. You can accomplish that task in person at county elections boards, bureaus of motor vehicles and other designated agencies or online via the secretary of state’s MyOhioVote.com.
The website will provide you with the necessary registration form, which you’ll have to send in, since Ohio doesn’t allow online registration.
If you are already registered, you should log into the website between now and the deadline to make sure your address and other personal details are correct. If you need to make changes, you can do that online.
Golden Week: Lawmakers recently passed and Gov. John Kasich signed legislation eliminating Golden Week, that short period of time when eligible residents could register and cast ballots the same day.
But that new law doesn’t take effect until after the May primary, meaning you could feasibly register and vote during the next few days.
Come November, voters will have 28 or 29 days to cast early ballots, with the absentee period starting after the registration deadline.
Absentee ballots: Anyone can vote early in Ohio, either in person at designated polling places or through the mail. For mail-ins, you will have to submit an application for an absentee ballot, then fill it out and mail it by the Monday before the election or drop it off in person by Election Day at the board of elections office.
If you request and receive an absentee ballot but decide not to cast it, you likely will have to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day until local officials can confirm your mail-in ballot was not used.
In-person voting: Secretary of State Jon A. Husted already has set hours for early voting, adopting the approach endorsed by the Ohio Association of Election Officials.
In-person voting starts Tuesday, generally from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through May 2. County elections officials will stay open until 9 p.m. April 7, and early voting will be offered from 8 a.m. to noon May 3, the final Saturday before Election Day.
Election Day: The polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 6.
State contests: There’s only one contested race among statewide officeholders: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald faces Dayton resident Larry Ealy for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. FitzGerald has the Ohio Democratic Party’s endorsement and already is focusing on challenging Gov. John Kasich in November.
The remainder of the statewide races — attorney general, auditor, treasurer and secretary of state — are unopposed.
Libertarian candidates for governor and attorney general will not appear on the ballot in May or November, barring court action.
Issues: There is one statewide issue on the primary ballot, a $1.9 billion public works bond issue that’s supported by Democrats and Republicans. It’s a continuation of the state capital improvement program, which originally was OK’d by voters in 1987 and renewed twice since then.
The new amendment seeks up to $175 million in state borrowing annually for five years (up from $150 million currently), followed by up to $200 million annually for the remaining five years. The proceeds would be used for grants for local roads, bridges, water supply, wastewater treatment, stormwater collection and solid-waste disposal.