Deadlines are rapidly approaching for citizens to receive and submit their absentee ballots ahead of the April 28 cutoff date for the 2020 primary election, and the Delaware County Board of Elections (BOE) wants to ensure citizens have a full understanding of what that process entails to maximize the turnout.
The outbreak of COVID-19 forced all polling places to close on the original March 17 Election Day. As a result, the election was extended to April 28 and moved to an absentee-only election. In order to receive an absentee ballot, however, voters must first submit their request form to the Delaware County BOE by this Saturday, April 25.
Voters have options as to how they can go about getting the ballot application, but with time growing thin, time-feasible options are limited. The Delaware County BOE will only mail absentee ballots up until noon Saturday, making it imperative for citizens wishing to vote to submit their request forms as soon as possible.
Most feasibly, citizens can pick up a request form at the dropbox located behind the BOE office at 2079 U.S. Route 23 N. in Delaware. Those forms can then be filled out and submitted in the dropbox, which is checked multiple times throughout the day, to speed up the turnaround for the ballot being mailed.
Should citizens still wish to roll the dice, the request forms are also available online at boardofelections.co.delaware.oh.us, which can be completed online and then printed for mailing to the Delaware County BOE. However, because all completed absentee ballots being mailed in must be postmarked by Monday, April 27, in order to be counted in the vote, waiting much longer to request the ballot via mail is not advisable, nor is that route being encouraged by the BOE.
“We want to get the message out to people without discouraging people but making sure they are very aware that we’ll mail a ballot up until Saturday at noon, but it’s really close (to the ballot postmark deadline) and we would not, in any way, recommend waiting that long,” BOE Director Karla Herron said. “The probability of us mailing the ballot on Saturday afternoon and them being able to postmark it on Monday, we don’t want to set anyone up for failure.”
Herron said the BOE is still receiving calls from citizens requesting the form be mailed to them, which she said simply isn’t going to be timely given the deadlines.
As for the casting of ballots, citizens have the option to hand-deliver their completed ballots to the BOE on April 28 rather than have to worry about the Monday, April 27, postmark deadline. The dropbox will be open until 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, at which time it will be locked and no more ballots will be accepted. To ensure the security of the dropbox, it will remain under constant camera surveillance until it is emptied for the final time.
In-person voting will still be allowed on Election Day only for anyone with a disability or who does not have a home address; anyone else who shows up to vote in person will be turned away. All in-person voting will be done at the Delaware County BOE office, which will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Voters with disabilities will be able to use ADA-accessible touchscreen machines to assist in casting their votes.
As for when a count can be expected, BOE Deputy Director Anthony Saadey said the results will be posted to the Delaware County BOE website no later than 10 p.m. on the night of the election. Herron said they have been advised to do no intermittent reporting throughout the night as votes are counted; only one report will be given, which will include the final results for votes counted that night.
Final results will take longer to determine as votes cast through the mail with the required postmark date of April 27 will have until May 8 to be delivered and counted.
In addition to getting the word out on the voting process itself, Herron said the BOE has seen a lot of misunderstanding from citizens on how to vote in a primary election and the options they have in requesting their ballot.
“That’s probably been the biggest thing that we have seen, that they don’t understand that in a primary, you either select a party ballot and you become affiliated with that party, or you select the issues only,” Herron said. “We’ve seen a lot of voters who don’t understand that if they pick a party ballot, they’re also going to get the issues. There has been a high percentage of incomplete applications.”
Saadey added that if voters don’t select one or the other, they can’t receive a ballot. He said the BOE has had to reach out to thousands of voters who have submitted incomplete applications, which has slowed down the process of getting ballots to citizens.
Now, given the dwindling timeframe for receiving a ballot, an incomplete application could result in citizens being shut out of the election.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.