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Election 2020 Questions Asked And Answered

Scroll down to see answers to some frequently asked questions about voting. We'll continue to update the list, so check back often.

If you have a question we haven't answered, ask us! Type your question into the box below and we'll do our best to get you an answer.


Find answers to the following questions in our How To Vote In Ohio: A 2020 Explainer:

  • Is it too late to register to vote?
  • How do I request an absentee ballot?
  • When will I get my ballot?
  • How do I cast a vote by mail?
  • Does the envelope identify my party affiliation?
  • What if I want to vote early, but not by mail?
  • What safeguards are there against fraud and other interference?
  • How can I see if my ballot arrived at the board of elections?
  • Can I vote in person on Election Day?
  • I haven’t voted for a while. How do I know if I’ve been purged from the voter rolls?
  • When will my ballot be counted?
  • When are election results finalized?

Answers To Other Questions


  • When are mail-in ballots counted - before Election Day? During? After? I'm concerned about the "red mirage,writes Dell, a listener on the east side. And Catherine in Bath adds,"I mean, they could keep the count secret and add it to in-person totals on election night. Why or why not?" Our reporter Nick Castele explained that Ohio elections officials can start scanning those absentee ballots the moment they’re received, but they can't release any results before the polls close on Election Day on Nov. 3.  


  • How can I get a copy of my local ballot to study before I vote in person? asks a Sound of Ideas listener. Enter your local details to view your sample ballot at the Secretary of State's Voter Toolkit website. 


  • How can I find out the status of my ballot application? ask several listeners. County boards of elections begin mailing absentee ballots Oct. 6 to voters who have requested them. You can track the status of your absentee ballot here.


  • Upon checking it says my absentee ballot is ACCE. What does that mean? asks a listener from Ottawa County. That means your absentee ballot was accepted. Ottawa County began mailing out absentee ballots October 6, so this listener should receive a ballot in the mail soon. Different counties use different systems, so some might say ACCE if it's accepted, but if your county doesn't use that system, it may say something different. 


  • Do I have to have an absentee ballot in order to be able to vote early in Ohio? asks a listener from Franklin County. In fact, voting prior to election day, whether by mail or in person, is considered absentee voting. Find information about absentee voting by mail or early in person voting at Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose's Absentee FAQ.



  • I just registered to vote on the last day registration was open. I want to vote early but do I need to wait for some sort of approval in the mail? "This is my first time voting so I'm new to the guidelines," writes a listener from North Olmsted. You can check your voter registration status here by clicking on the “Check Your Voter Registration” box.


  • Do boards of election allow observers when they count the votes, particularly the provisional votes, at the board office? asks Kathleen. Observers are permitted to monitor counting of early and provisional ballots. But Lake County Board of Elections Director Ross McDonald says anyone interested in becoming one must be appointed to the position, “They can’t just take it upon themselves to go inside the polls and watch closely. They do need to be officially appointed by a party, a candidate or an issue.” McDonald says observers are already monitoring the count of early voting ballots and will continue their work including on Election Day.



  • I received my absentee ballot, but I have purchased a house in another city and there is a chance we might be move by Election Day. Should I go ahead and mail in my ballot, or do I wait to move and go to the new city's polling site? asks a registered voter in New Philadelphia. If you’re really not sure what you should do, you should visit your Board of Elections prior to Election Day to make sure you get the correct ballot. Find your Board of Elections here. Read more in this story: Moving Right Before Election Day? Here's How To Vote In The Right Location



  • Do I need to vote in every contest on my ballot? No, you do not. Boards will count the votes in races you’ve properly filled out. If you leave a contest blank, it’s considered an “under vote.” Take a look at detailed election results from a BOE, and you’ll see “under votes” in just about every contest.


  • Can I return my absentee ballot to a different county's BOE dropbox, or do I need to drop it off at my county's BOE dropbox? asks Pamela. A voter must return the absentee ballots to the board of elections in the county in which they are registered. Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said a voter in one Ohio county cannot submit an absentee ballot to a Board of Elections in another county.  Absentee ballots mailed to your board must be postmarked by Nov. 2, the day before the election and received by the board no later than Nov. 13. The ballots can also be dropped off at your local board of elections by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.


  • Who are my electoral voters for Ohio 2020? asks a voter in Cincinnati. Voters interested in learning who will represent them in the Electoral College can contact the Secretary of State for a list of candidates for the positions. Those positions are not listed on the ballot and are not selected individually.