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On Election Day, some Ohioans encountering problems while voting on abortion, marijuana

Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023
Sarah Donaldson
Statehouse News Bureau
Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023

It’s Election Day, and Ohioans are going to the polls to cast ballots on an abortion rights constitutional amendment and a law to make recreational marijuana legal as well as local issues and candidates.

Election protection workers said there have been a few hiccups at the polls so far.  

Nazek Hapasha with the League of Women Voters of Ohio said she’s hearing from college students who requested mail-in ballots but never received them.

“We have got an extraordinarily high number of voters in the zip code of the Ohio State University that were mailed a ballot but it was not returned,” Hapasha added. “We have been following up with them individually as much as we can wherever we can find contact information for them.”

The Ohio Secretary of State's office has a system that can track mail-in ballots. But Mia Lewis with Common Cause Ohio said that's not telling students where their ballots are.

“You can see that they mailed you a ballot but then there is kind of this black hole where you don’t know what’s happened then," Lewis said.

Hapasha said students and others with questions about their ballots should cast a provisional one in person if possible.

But not all students are able to do that. Some Ohio students attending college in other states cannot do that. Neither can students who lack acceptable forms of photo identification now required to cast an in-person ballot.

A spokeswoman for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Melanie Amato, said other than that, "we have heard of no issues of people not getting their absentee ballots."

"If someone requested an absentee ballot but didn’t receive it they can go to their polling location and cast a provisional ballot, which will count as long as they didn’t also vote an absentee ballot. They also could have early voted this weekend," Amato said.

Because of a new voting law that took effect in April, utility bills cannot be used as a form of identification for voting. Voters now must have a photo ID though their address does not have to show. A third of provisional ballots that were rejected in the Aug. 8 special election were tossed because of lack of ID.

Election protection workers said there was also a problem with equipment in Northeast Ohio.

Kayla Griffin with All Voting is Local said there was a problem earlier today in Cuyahoga County at Fernway Elementary School when the electronic ballot collection box broke. But she said the problem was dealt with immediately and no voters have been disenfranchised.

“The wait time was extended because of that but they moved to collecting the ballots in a box, in a secure box, as opposed to the voter putting it through the electronic ballot box," Griffin said.

Polling places are open until 7:30 p.m. Any qualified voter standing in line to vote at that time will be allowed to cast a ballot.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.