Ten things you should know as election day nears

By MARC KOVAC C-N Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- Early voting in Ohio starts in less than two weeks, with polling open to military and overseas voters before the end of the month.

Here are 10 things you should know now in advance of the final weeks before Election Day on Nov. 6:

1. Registration

The deadline to register is Oct. 9, 30 days before the general election. That's seven days after the opening of in-person and mail-in absentee voting begins on Oct. 2. Lawmakers have attempted to eliminate the period when Ohioans could register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day, but "golden week" remains for this year's presidential contest.

2. Address Change

Ohioans who have moved or made other changes affecting their voter registrations also have until Oct. 9 to make updates. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is offering eligible Ohioans the opportunity to complete that task online, via MyOhioVote.com.

Voters also can log onto that website to check their registration information. They will have to provide their driver's license number, birth date and last four digits of their Social Security number in order to use the new online system. They also can print change of address forms to mail directly to elections officials.

3. Vote By Mail

Eligible Ohioans who want to cast ballots by mail must submit absentee requests to their county boards of elections by noon on Nov. 3.

Applications were mailed by Husted's office to eligible voters earlier this month; applications also are available online at MyOhioVote.com.

Ballots will be available starting on Saturday for overseas and military voters and on Oct. 2 for others.

4. Vote in Person before Nov. 6: County election offices statewide will be open during weekday hours set by Husted as follows:

• 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 2-Oct. 5, Oct. 10-Oct. 12 and Oct. 15-Oct. 19.

• 8 a.m.-9 p.m. on Oct. 9 (the deadline to register to vote).

• 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 22-Oct. 26 and Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

• 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 2.

5. Last Three Days: A federal judge has ordered Husted to open early polls on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day, as well, though that ruling is being appealed. Matt McClellan, spokesman for the secretary of state, said a directive concerning early voting on those three days is in the works.

6. Other Weekends: Husted at this time is not considering opening on other weekends in October for early voting, though a lawsuit filed in federal court seeks to force additional early polling days.

7. Election Day: Voters can also visit the polls on Election Day, Nov. 6, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Check with county election boards or MyOhioVote.com for details on polling places and precincts.

8. Photo ID: Voters casting ballots in person on Election Day must have one of more than a half a dozen forms of identification in hand, including a driver's license or other current and valid photo ID issued by the state of Ohio or U.S. government; military ID; utility bill; bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document other than the voter registration acknowledgment provided by the board of elections.

Lawmakers debated legislation last year that would have required photo identification to vote, but that bill did not pass.

9. Statewide Issues: There are two statewide issues that will be decided.

Issue 1 asks whether the state should play host to a convention to review the state constitution and outline potential changes.

The question is put to voters every 20 years but has never been approved. Lawmakers, instead, have formed a constitutional modernization committee to complete a comparable review and make recommendations for amendments be placed on future ballots.

Issue 2 is a redistricting reform package that would replace the existing processes for redrawing legislative and congressional maps, replacing a system that critics say tips in favor of whichever political party is in power with one controlled by a 12-member panel made up of equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents.

10. House Bill 194: The controversial Republican-backed election reform package will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Opponents gathered enough signatures to force the legislation before voters, but Republicans in the Ohio House and Senate preemptively repealed the legislation.

A federal lawsuit on the issue is pending.

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