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Securing the vote: ensuring your ballot counts [VIDEO]

Word on the Street: Students talk about voting prior to November 2012 elections Video by: Editor/Talent: Lo Martinez, journalism major; Videographers: Jarrod Dowalter, video production major; Andie Walla, UCM assistant video producer

With the presidential election rounding out its last few weeks, there's another important date approaching that's often overlook on calendars: the voter registration deadline.

In Ohio, individuals voting in the general election must register 30 days before Election Day, making the deadline for registration Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Unlike most political procedures, registering to vote is fairly straightforward. There are a variety of options available to register. Citizens can download the application online to mail in, request the application be mailed to a home address or visit a range of locations to obtain an application.

Completed voter registration applications can be sent to the following locations:
• The office of the Secretary of State
• The office of any of the 88 county boards of elections
• The office of the registrar or any deputy registrar of the Ohio BMV
• County treasurers' offices
• Public libraries
• Public high schools or vocational schools
• Offices of designated agencies, including:

  • The Department of Job and Family Services
  • The Department of Health, including the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program
  • The Department of Mental Health  
  • The Department of Developmental Disabilities  
  • The Rehabilitation Services Commission

For those registering online, registrants still must print out registration documents and sign them before mailing the papers to the Ohio Secretary of State or a county board of elections office.

Voters who are updating their registration forms need to mail change of name or address documents to their county board of elections.

The restrictions for registration are simple: voters must be 18 years old on Election Day, residents of Ohio for at least 30 days as well as a citizen of the United States and never been incarcerated for a felony.

Absentee Ballots:
Although Ohio University students spend nine months of the year in Athens, if non-Athens natives registered to vote in their hometown, they technically must use an absentee ballot to cast their vote.

To even be able to vote, out-of-townies first need to request a ballot by completing an application found online and mailing it to their county's board of elections. A ballot will be sent to voters, who must return the ballot to their local county board of elections by mail or in person.

The absentee ballots must be received by their county board of elections prior to the close of the polls at 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, or postmarked no later than the day before the election. Ballots postmarked the day before Election Day must be received within 10 days after the election.

Election Day Procedures

When the big day is here and the polls are open, there are a few reminders for people voting:

• Remember to bring a current and valid form of identification that shows the voter's name and current address. This includes original copies of utility bills, military identification and state and government issued identification cards.
• Voting is open from 6:30a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
• Polls locations are available here
• It is illegal for an employer to punish or fire an employee for leaving work to vote
• Voters who did not update their voter registration information can vote using a provisional ballot. If a voter casts a provisional ballot without proper proof of identity, the voter has 10 days after Election Day to provide proof of identity.

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