The Truth About Voting by Mail in Ohio and Kentucky

Voting by mail has become a hot issue. Here, we sort through what we know and the differing requirements in Ohio and Kentucky.

Despite what you may have heard, mail-in voting, whether in an all-mail election state or as an absentee option, is in fact not vulnerable to widespread fraud (according to the Brookings Institution). Also not true? Voting by mail gives one party an advantage over the other (again, according to Brookings, based on a variety of studies, including one from Stanford).

Illustration by Katie Edwards

This year, Kentucky dramatically expanded access to mail-in absentee ballots in the primary and general elections. Early in-person voting will also be available throughout the Commonwealth. Ohio, a no-excuse absentee state, already offers this option. Election watchers are concerned that changes to the organizational structure at the U.S. Postal Service could result in delivery delays for all kinds of mail, including election mail. Voters who intend to mail their ballots should factor possible slowdowns into the time needed and request ballots well in advance of any deadlines, or contact the county clerk or board of elections for ballot dropbox locations.


KENTUCKY

Deadline to register to vote
29 days before the election: October 5, 2020, 4 p.m

Requirements to vote absentee by mail
There are typically restrictions on who can request a mail-in absentee ballot in Kentucky. For the 2020 general election, an executive order expanded “not able to appear at the polls on election day on account of age, disability, or illness” to include anyone concerned with contracting or spreading COVID-19. Request at https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/abrweb or through your county clerk.

Deadline for mail-in absentee ballot request
Through the portal, October 9; otherwise, seven days before the election: October 27, 2020

Deadline for returning mail-in absentee ballot
Postmarked by election day, November 3, and received by November 6

Early in-person voting available?
Yes, starting October 13, every work day and every Saturday

Requirements to vote early in person
Typically, in-person voting is limited to voters who fall into specific categories. This year, any registered voter may vote early in person.

How long are polls open on November 3?
6 a.m.–6 p.m.

 

OHIO

Deadline to register to vote
29 days before the election: October 5, 2020, 9 p.m.

Requirements to vote absentee by mail
Fill out and return an application: ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/absentee-voting

Deadline for mail-in absentee ballot request
Noon three days before the election: October 31, 2020

Deadline for returning mail-in absentee ballot
Postmarked by November 2, the day before the election (or return in-person to county board of elections before 7:30 p.m. election day)

Early in-person voting available?
Yes, starting the day after the close of voter registration: October 6, 2020

Requirements to vote early in person
Must be a registered voter

How long are polls open on November 3?
6:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m.

 

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