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Election Enters Final Stretch: How to Cast a Safe, Secure Ballot in Ohio

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Early voting and absentee voting in Ohio are outpacing levels from 2016. (M. Kuhlman)
Early voting and absentee voting in Ohio are outpacing levels from 2016. (M. Kuhlman)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH - Producer, Contact
October 29, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The 2020 election is in the final stretch, and there are a lot of important details Ohio voters should know.

Ohioans can cast a ballot by absentee, during early-voting hours or at the polls Tuesday on Election Day.

Veronica McCreary-Hall, a volunteer with AARP Ohio, voted early in Hamilton. She said the line appeared long, but it turned out to be a simple and secure process.

"From the time I got out of my car to the time I got back into my car, it was 25 minutes," McCreary-Hall stated. "Everything was very organized and very, very safe. That's my personal experience, in addition to quite a few of the people that I've talked to as well."

McCreary-Hall encouraged voters, especially those age 50-plus, to make a voting plan.

Early voting hours are held until Monday, Nov. 2. Saturday, Oct. 31 is the deadline to request an absentee ballot, and it must be received by local boards of elections by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day or be postmarked by Nov. 2.

Absentee ballot requested in Ohio top 3.2 million so far, twice as many as in 2016.

Jason Smith, interim advocacy manager for AARP, said they're getting good feedback about the absentee voting process.

He said at some sites, voters can drop off ballots without leaving a vehicle.

"If you're someone who has concerns about COVID-19, have some predisposed health concerns or are 50 years or older, we definitely suggest that is a good method to explore for voting," Smith emphasized.

Ohio developed new health and safety guidelines for in-person voting, including social distancing, and designated entrance and exit doors.

As a past poll worker, McCreary-Hall advised voters to prepare for any kind of weather conditions should lines stretch outdoors.

"So make sure you take a mask, an extra mask in case your loop breaks, hand sanitizer," McCreary-Hall urged. "Take a small bottle of water and a snack and medications that you are going to need while standing in line. Also make sure you take a fully charged phone."

Smith said AARP's Protect Voters 50+ voter education campaign educates Ohioans about safety at the polls, and provides nonpartisan information on key issues.

"The debates this year made it a little bit more challenging to understand where the candidates are on some of these issues," Smith noted. "And so we have exclusive interviews both of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden discussing where they are on Social Security, Medicaid, health care and prescription drugs."

The interviews are online at aarp.org/Election2020, along with voting information for each state.

Disclosure: AARP Ohio contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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