DARKE COUNTY – In 2018’s primary election, only 17 percent of Ohio voters cast absentee ballots. In 2020, that number will be 100 percent.
The state’s decision to postpone Ohio’s March 17 primary election to April 28 and go the “mail only” route due to the threat of the Coronavirus has presented not only a challenge to Buckeye State voters, but to boards of election across all of the Ohio’s 88 counties.
Darke County Board of Elections Director Paul Schlecty calls Ohio’s first-ever mail-only election an unprecedented experience for him and his counterparts.
“It’s fresh territory for everyone,” he said. “There’s never been an election like it.”
As of today, April 14, registered voters who have not yet requested an absentee ballot or submitted their ballots will have two weeks remaining to complete the entire process.
Schlecty said voters should not procrastinate when filling out their applications and returning them.
“It’s important for applications to be in to us so we can send out ballots promptly,” he said. “The last day to submit a request for an application is April 25 at noon.”
“We will then mail out the ballots, but they need to be returned to us by April 28 at 7:30 p.m., or postmarked no later than April 27,” he added.
Though the Darke County Board of Elections maintains a website (boe.ohio.gov/darke/) at which voters may download and print off an application for an absentee ballot, Schlectly recommends voters first go online to the secretary of state’s website to do so.
“We try to direct people to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website (VoteOhio.gov), which has the most up-to-date information,” he said.
Darke County voters may also call the local board of elections at 937-548-1835 to request an application.
Voters will then have the option of mailing their ballots back to the board or using a dropoff box at the board of elections headquarters at 300 Garst Avenue in Greenville.
Despite the unusual circumstances affecting this year’s election, Schlecty said he is “very pleased” with the number of voters in Darke County who have thus far requested ballots.
“We’ve been very busy processing applications,” he said. “And the turnout may be higher than we might have seen on a regular primary election day.”
After Ohio wraps up its primary election, all eyes will then be focused on the November general election.
“We’re already started having conversations about if we have to do an all-mail election in November,” said Schlecty. “Hopefully that won’t happen, because we like seeing voters at the polls. However, the public’s safety and health remains paramount.”
Erik Martin may be reached by phone at 937-569-4312 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org