YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio’s official primary Election Day has passed with the polls closed because of COVID-19 but people who haven’t voted yet still have the opportunity.
The Ohio General Assembly passed a bill Thursday that extends this year’s primary election to April 28 and eliminates most in-person voting.
Statewide, the polls will be open on the new election day — but only for voters with certain disabilities.
However, everyone else will be able to request and return a mail-in ballot.
“This absentee process isn’t anything different than what we’ve done in the past,” said Tom McCabe, deputy director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections.
He said so far, they’ve received over 10,000 absentee votes for this election.
To request an absentee ballot, the first step is going OhioSOS.gov. Once you’ve requested a ballot on that website, fill in your information and mail that to your county board of elections.
An absentee ballot will be sent to your home. Fill out your votes on the ballot and mail it back.
“For those voters who hadn’t voted already, I think there’s an urgency to get your application into your local board so we have time to get ballots sent back to you and you have time to send that ballot back to us,” McCabe said.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose wanted to still have an in-person election on June 1 to allow more time. He disagrees with the legislature on the earlier deadline, saying, “It’s disappointing that they’ve instead chosen to significantly reduce the time provided for Ohio to bring this primary to a close.”
Before coronavirus threats, McCabe estimated a 35% to 40% voter turnout for this election. Now it’s much lower.
“People who do want to participate — and those voters are usually pretty steady voters who get their application to us and return their ballot once we give it to them,” McCabe said.
On Friday, both McCabe and Trumbull County Board of Elections director Stephanie Penrose sat in on a webinar held by the secretary of state’s office. They talked about potential financial impacts and new voting procedures, among other topics.