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Oct. 11 is here; have you checked your voter registration status?

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: October 9, 2016 12:01 AM
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Columbus -- Early voting starts in Ohio on Oct. 12.

But you won't be able to cast a ballot that counts toward the results unless you make sure you're registered by Oct. 11. It would also be wise to confirm your registration and address with election officials then.

Here are 10 final things to consider as Ohio's voter registration deadline approaches:

1. Who's Eligible? Oct. 11 is the last day to register to vote in Ohio.

You're eligible to participate in November presidential election if you are 18 or older, a U.S. citizen and a resident of Ohio.

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If you're in prison for a felony conviction, have been declared incompetent by a judge or otherwise been "permanently disenfranchised for violating elections laws," then you're out of luck.

There are some specific rules about your residence for voting purposes that are worth reviewing.

You'll find a full description of voter eligibility and other requirements online at MyOhioVote.com.

2. What You'll Need: When registering for the first time, you'll be asked for your driver's license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number, among other personal details. If you don't have an Ohio driver's license or, for some reason, don't have your Social Security number, you'll have to provide some other forms of identification, like a bank statement, military ID, paycheck stub, etc.

Registration forms also require your signature.

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3. Paper: The keyword here is forms -- you'll have to complete your voter registration on paper, whether writing your answers on a blank document or typing answers into an electronic form and printing it out.

While lawmakers have paved the way for online voter registration next year, that's not an option for this election.

4. Then What? You can either mail your registration paperwork to your local elections board or take it that office in person.

If doing the former, make sure it's in the mail by Oct. 11 -- it might be wise to ask the post office to ensure the envelope is postmarked accordingly.

5. No Vote: Even if you've been registered in the past, it's a good idea to recheck your voting status by Oct. 11.

The process can be completed quickly online at MyOhioVote.com.

Even if you are eligible, if you're not properly registered, your vote likely won't be counted on Election Day.

(You probably won't be turned away from your precinct polling place, said Josh Eck, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office. Instead, you'll have to vote a provisional ballot, which probably won't be counted if you didn't register in advance.)

6. Address Update: Along those lines, you should check your voter registration address online or through your local elections officials before the Tuesday deadline.

While you can't register online, you can update your address through the Secretary of State's website. You'll also find the location of your precinct polling place, if you decide to wait until Election Day to cast your ballot.

That said, you can update your address after the registration deadline, though you'll likely have to cast a provisional ballot as elections officials confirm your residence and eligibility.

"They'll work pretty hard to make sure that your provisional ballot counts," Eck said. "But the easiest thing to do is for everyone to update their address by the 11th."

7. Early Numbers: As of about a week before Ohio's deadline, nearly 7.8 million people were registered to vote. That number should increase by the end of the day Oct. 11.

There were nearly 8 million registered voters in 2012, and nearly 8.3 million in 2008, the previous two presidential elections.

8. Absentee Ballot Applications: Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted earlier mailed more than 6.6 million absentee ballot applications to registered voters.

As of about a week before the registration deadline, more than 957,000 of those applications had been returned to elections officials requesting absentee ballots.

Nearly 15,000 of those came from military men and women and other Ohioans living overseas. Ballots for those voters were mailed earlier, and 247 have been submitted -- the first official votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.

Eck said Husted plans another round of absentee ballot application mailings after Oct. 11, covering new or otherwise updated registrations that were not part of the earlier mailing.

You can also download an absentee ballot application via the Secretary of State's website.

9. Where's My Ballot? Unless you're serving in the military or living overseas but eligible to vote in Ohio, you won't get your absentee ballot until after the Oct. 11 registration deadline.

10. Legal Challenges: Voter advocates continue to voice concern about eligible Ohioans who have been removed from the rolls for not voting.

A federal appeals court last month ruled that the state violated federal election law on that issue.

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) called on Husted to return 1.2 million eligible voters to the state's rolls in advance of the registration deadline.

"Restore these voters now," she said in a released statement. "The clock is ticking for these voters in 2016 It is imperative that Mr. Husted stop making excuses, do the legal and right thing and give back 1.2 million Ohioans their constitutional right to vote."

In a column distributed recently, Husted countered that, "The only voters who have been removed are those who have died, requested cancellation after moving out of state, notified a board of elections of a change of address to a different Ohio county, or are no longer eligible to vote under state law. Federal and state law requires us to keep the voter rolls up to date to avoid having deceased and ineligible voters on the rolls. Having clean voter rolls protects your vote and makes Election Day more efficient."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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