5 things you MUST know to be ready to vote for a presidential nominee (and more) in Ohio’s Primary Election!

Published February 12, 2016

So, you’re registered to vote, hopefully at the right address. Now comes the real test of your fortitude… Actually casting your vote in Ohio’s Primary Election.

This state doesn’t make it easy on you–especially with so many minority voters, low-income voters, and students looking to have a say over government these days. Sometimes it feels like they don’t really want us to vote, even. (Hmmmmm.) With work and school and family and friends, and everything else you have going on all the time, it’s easy to let this one thing slip.




Here are some answers to the most commonly asked voter questions so that your Primary polling experience is as quick and easy as possible.

1. How and where and when do I even… *whispers* VOTE???

Do one of these THREE things to vote in Ohio.

(1) Vote Early in-person at your county’s Board of Elections office (find that address here) between 8am-5pm/M-F from Feb. 17-Mar. 4, 8am-7pm/M-F between Mar. 7-11, or other select days (find the full early voting schedule here, including for the 2016 General Election)

(2) Request an absentee ballot and vote by mail before March 14 (or before Nov. 5 for the 2016 General Election)

OR (3) Vote in-person on March 15 at the designated polling location for your address, between 6:30am and 7:30pm on Election DayI'm Busy

2. Where’s my f***ing polling location?

Just breathe. Click here. That’s where you’ll find your polling place. Again, just click here, and keep that tab open until March 16… or maybe November 8, 2016, just to be safe.

Word of advice: If you recently moved and forgot to update your address on your voter registration, it’s okay–all hope is not lost. Just don’t change your address online, because you’ve already missed the 30 day deadline. Instead, look up the polling location for your new address here, then go vote there on Election Day. Your name will not appear on the voter rolls of that location, so you will need to ask a poll worker for a provisional ballot and explain that this is the polling location of your new address. Provisional ballots are not the ideal way to vote, and they carry some extra hoops to jump through, so be especially sure to bring forms of ID that include your new address if you’re planning to vote this way.
ALSO, FUN FACT: If you’ve voted in the past while living at your current address, your polling place could still be a totally different place for this election. March 15 could be a new adventure! ALWAYS check.

3. Speaking of ID… What can I use for that?

In Ohio, you just need to provide one of the following forms of ID to be able to vote:

  1. A valid (non-expired) Ohio driver’s license or state ID card with your name and photo, issued by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. A valid OHIO driver’s license displaying an old address may still be used to vote at your new one. If you don’t have an Ohio driver’s license… keep moving your eyes down the list
  2. A U.S. Military ID with your name and photo (address not required)
  3. A government-issued photo ID with your name and current address. Note: A student ID is not an acceptable form of ID at the polls
  4. A copy of one of the following documents so long as it contains your name and current address:
      • *Utility bill, including cell phone bill
        • *Some Ohio colleges will mail “utility bills” for $0.00 to students so they can prove their on-campus residency. This is very important to have for out-of-state students who wish to vote in the Ohio Primary (who totally, legally can vote in Ohio!). You’re going to have to contact your school on your own, though.
      • Bank statement
      • Pay stub
      • Government check or other government document

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Kids, leave the fake IDs at home.

4. Do I have to declare my party affiliation ahead of time?

The short answer is: NO. You’ll get to declare, or re-declare a party affiliation when you vote in the primary, and then be able to select from the candidates on that party’s ballot. This is only true of the Primary Election.

But for those who want more details: Ohio has semi-closed, or mixed primaries. That means you can only vote in the primary of a one major political party–which, in Ohio, means you have two choices: Republican or Democratic. You do not have to be pre-registered with a party in order to vote in that party’s primary. Furthermore, if you are pre-registered with one party, that doesn’t keep you from voting on the other party’s candidates. Meaning, if you were a Kutie for Kasich in 2014, but you’re feelin’ the Bern now, that’s okay! Just ask for a (let’s say) Democratic Ballot when you get to the poll (maybe consider grabbing a sample ballot too, so you know what’s up), then vote for whomever you want. Just vote.

5. AGH, I hate planning!!!

First of all, that’s not a question. Secondly, get it together, voter! Now is not the time for a breakdown.

You need a plan… Even if you don’t realize it. Election Day will be here before you know it, so just ask yourself these quick questions:

  1. When do I work or have class on Tuesdays?
  2. Do I have anything scheduled on March 15?
  3. Will I be in town and able to go to my polling place? (Hey, OSU students for one, remember you’ll be on spring break!)
  4. How will I get myself to the polls?
    • If you will not be traveling on March 15, and you have time and transportation between 6:30am-7:30pm to go to your polling place, pick an exact time for when you plan to vote and mark it on your calendar. Set a reminder. Woo hoo, you’re ready to go!
    • If you’re not going to be in town, if you just don’t want to bother with the lines on Election Day, you should either vote early (see answers to #1 for info on that) or request an absentee ballot before noon on March 12, and mail it in by March 14. For the 2016 Presidential Election, the deadline is noon on Nov. 5, and mail it in by Nov. 7.



There you have it. You have a plan.


If you have ANY questions about registering to vote or voting in the primary, email us at digital AT democraticvoices.com.

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