COLUMBUS, Ohio — Millions of Ohioans have begun receiving their official unsolicited ballot applications in the mail this week, leading some voters who have already requested a ballot to wonder why they’re getting another form.
In short, the reason for the duplication is a disconnect between all the parties involved with promoting elections and voting — candidate campaigns, third-party groups, county elections officials and state elections officials.
And, to answer the obvious question: No, you don’t have to send in a second application if you’ve already submitted one.
Ohio elections officials, concerned about mail delays, have encouraged voters to request ballot applications as quickly as possible. Candidates and outside political groups have been sending application forms out too as they try to mobilize their preferred voters.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s Office began its process of printing applications and stuffing them in envelopes weeks ago. They were mailed this week to all 7.8 million registered voters in Ohio, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican who oversees state elections.
This means hundreds of thousands of Ohioans already had submitted applications by the time this week’s mailing went out. In Cuyahoga County alone, elections officials reported receiving more than 140,000 applications at the beginning of this week, compared to the 208,000 mail ballots total that were requested for the 2016 election.
“People are very likely to get multiple absentee ballot request forms from multiple sources,” said Aaron Ockerman, director of the Ohio Elections Officials Association, which represents county boards of election. “Candidly, it is a bit of a frustration for my folks because it generates duplicates and creates more work for them.”
There’s no harm in filling out a form twice and mailing it in, other than wasting government resources, Ockerman said.
“We will recognize the fact that they already have applied for an application,” Ockerman said. “They’re fine. It doesn’t hurt them, it doesn’t help them. It doesn’t do anything.”
If you are wondering about the status of your ballot application, you can call your county board of elections. You can also check it online at the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office’s website, https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/toolkit/ballot-tracking/.
The first round of requested ballots will be mailed on Oct. 6, when early, in-person voting begins. The election is on Nov. 3.