COLUMBUS (WCMH) — If you don’t have access to the internet, a computer, and a printer, getting an absentee ballot application for the extended March 17 primary meant one of two things: you either had to call your board of elections and request an application via mail, or drive down to the board of elections to get one.
That is changing for Franklin County registered voters.
The Franklin County Board of Elections has partnered with Kroger supermarkets to provide access to the ballot application in each of Kroger’s 37 county stores.
The applications can be found at the customer service desk and are being kept at a safe social distance away from other places customers would be in the area.
This can be a boon for voters who either don’t know where the Board of Election headquarters is in Franklin County (1700 Morse Road, Columbus, OH) or don’t want to drive to it. Now, they can pick up an application while they shop for their essentials.
A total of 18,500 applications have been distributed across the county, each store getting 500 to start.
Some may wonder if they should even bother voting.
Voter turnout for primary elections are notoriously lower than in November’s general elections, although presidential primaries do tend to see an uptick in participation.
Still, some simply don’t want to weigh in on which candidates from a particular party battles it out in November’s presidential election.
But ignoring the primary means you may be ignoring other issues that would fundamentally impact your finances.
Many areas in Ohio are currently making decisions on taxes and school levies. By not voting, you are giving up your say in how those issues should be decided.
If you are concerned that voting in the primary labels you as part of a particular party, then you can choose to vote an “Issues Only” ballot, and still get to have your voice heard on whether you’ll be paying more for a particular community service.
Voters can still call the Franklin County Board of Elections if they want to request an application be sent to them in the mail, but that will delay the process of getting a ballot to vote on by several days.
That could be important because all of the back and forth mailing documents between your home and the board of elections takes time as it is processed through the postal service.
It can take a week or more in some cases to complete the entire process from start to finish, and that’s if you are on the ball with receiving and sending things back and forth.
For voters living in some areas on Ohio’s western border, it can take even longer as their mail is sent out of Ohio to Indianapolis to be sorted and then sent back to their county seat where the board of elections is located.
That can add days to each step.
Because of this, cutting down the number of steps necessary to get your hands on a ballot is advised. That means printing an application off of the internet and sending it through the mail or dropping it off in person.
A few days later, after they verify you are who you claim to be, you will get a ballot in the mail.
The final day to submit your application for a ballot is April 25, while the final day you can have your ballot postmarked to be sent back and counted is April 27. Otherwise, you will have to turn your ballot in at the county’s board of elections headquarters in person no later than 7:30 p.m. on April 28.
If you wait to request the application until the 25, you will not be able to complete the entire process by mail in time.