Coronavirus and Ohio’s 2020 Primary Election

Due to the current Coronavirus crisis, multiple changes have been made to Ohio’s primary election over the past few weeks.

The election was initially postponed from its original date of Tuesday, March 17, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose set a new primary election date of June 2. In a press conference on March 16, Governor Mike DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton agreed that Ohioans should not have to choose between their right to vote and their health.

Many questioned the authority of Ohio’s executive branch to set the new election date of June 2. The legislature later overruled this directive by passing House Bill 197, which was signed into law on Friday, March 27.  The act eliminates most in person voting and extends absentee voting until April 28. All ballots must be postmarked by April 27 and arrive at the board of elections by May 8. The deadline to request a ballot is 12 p.m. on April 25 for most voters. The Secretary of State will be mailing approximately 7.8 million informational postcards to every registered Ohioan that explains to them how to obtain the form necessary to request an absentee ballot.

Ohioans must now request an absentee ballot through the Secretary of State’s website. The application can be printed and mailed to each voter’s respective county board of elections. Those who cannot access or print the online application may call their local board of elections to have their ballot request mailed to them. Voters are responsible for supplying postage for absentee ballot requests, however, the official absentee ballots should arrive accompanied by a postage-paid envelope.

For those questioning the safety of handling paper mail at this time, the Secretary of State’s website notes “The experts at the Ohio Department of Health have said that COVID-19 doesn’t spread by penetrating the skin on your hands, but only leads to infection when it is transferred from your hand to places like your mouth, nose, or eyes. Given that, the best measure you can take to prevent the spread of germs is washing your hands after handling mail and even cash.”

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