In-person voting has been canceled for most people, but coronavirus can’t stop democracy.
Eons ago, in mid-March, as businesses were closing and people were getting used to staying home, there was supposed to be an election happening. But on the eve of the March 17 primary, Governor Mike DeWine announced the election would be delayed, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that recommended against mass gatherings.
“It is clear that tomorrow’s in-person voting does not conform and cannot conform with these CDC guidelines,” DeWine said at his daily press conference on March 16. “We should not force people to make a choice between their health and their constitutional rights and their duties as American citizens."
The last-minute decision prompted confusion, legal wrangling and hand-wringing on both sides of the aisle. But in a piece of emergency legislation signed by DeWine March 27, the final date to put absentee ballots in the mail was cemented as April 27. There will be no in-person voting on April 28, with the exception of people who are homeless or disabled.
If you already voted early in person or by mail, good job! You’re all set.
If you haven’t voted yet, obtaining a vote-by-mail absentee ballot is wicked easy. All you have to do is ask for one by putting in an application.
You should soon get a mailer from Secretary of State Frank LaRose with application instructions. But you’ll want to check your home county’s board of elections website for county-specific instructions as well. You will also need stamps, which are available to order online, at your local post office and at most large grocery stores.
If you live in Cuyahoga County, the Board of Elections suggests visiting 443vote.us. There you can register to vote, if you haven’t already (side-eye), and print or request a vote-by-mail application form by simply supplying your name and birthday.
In a news release, the Board of Elections said it recommends this method of returning that application form to them, since it is fastest: print it out, complete it and mail it in. (The stamps will be handy for this step.)
After a few days, your ballot will be delivered to your mailbox courtesy of the fine people at the United States Postal Service. When you’re done voting, simply mail in your completed ballot to be counted per the enclosed instructions, no postage or awkward-but-loveable interactions with virus-prone poll workers required.
If you don’t own a printer, you can also get a Cuyahoga County vote-by-mail application by:
- Visiting 443vote.us and asking to be sent one. When the application arrives, complete it and mail it back. (You’ll need a stamp.) After that, your ballot will arrive and you can fill it out in the comfort of your abode. Follow the enclosed Board of Elections instructions to send it in, no postage required.
- Calling the Board of Elections at 216-443-VOTE and asking to be mailed a vote-by-mail application. Complete the application and mail it back (you’ll need a stamp), and your ballot will show up. Follow the enclosed instructions to send the completed ballot to the Board of Elections, no postage required.
- Visiting the Board of Elections building in person. The building is closed to the public, but there is an area inside the back door where people can complete and submit their vote-by-mail application. Submit your application and your ballot will show up in the mail. Fill it out and follow the enclosed instructions to mail it in for counting, no postage required.
“Our message to voters is that now is the time to complete and submit their ballot applications and not to wait until the last minute,” Anthony Perlatti, director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, said in a release. “We don’t want anyone to become discouraged because they were not able to vote at the polls on March 17, 2020. I hope they will spend a few minutes completing the ballot application process so we can mail them a ballot as soon as possible.”
You heard the man. Get to it, Cleveland.