Frequently Asked Questions about General Voting and Voter Registration
How can I register to vote?
You may register to vote in person or by mail.
Access the Voter Registration form by clicking here. You may also use the National Mail Voter Registration form available at: www.eac.gov/voter_resources/register_to_vote.aspx.
You also may ask a county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office to mail a voter registration application to you.
You may obtain a voter registration application, and register to vote, in person at any of 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 Bureau of Motor Vehicles;
- Public libraries;
- Public high schools or vocational schools;
- County treasurers' offices; or
- 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; or
- The office of any state-assisted college or university responsible for providing assistance to disabled students.
When you have finished your voter registration application, please review it carefully for completeness and accuracy. You may either personally deliver, or send by U.S. Mail, your voter registration application to a county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office. You, or another person acting on your behalf, also may deliver your application to one of the offices listed above, but you should ensure your application reaches the office of a board of elections or the Secretary of State no later than the voter registration deadline, the 30th day before the election at which you want to vote.
What is the registration deadline?
Ohio has a 30-day voter registration requirement. However, if the voter registration deadline falls on a Sunday or a legal holiday, then the deadline is extended to the next day that is not a Sunday or a legal holiday.
Registration by U.S. mail
If you choose to register to vote using the U.S. Mail, you may send your properly completed and signed registration application to the office of a county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office. Your application must be postmarked by the voter registration deadline, the 30th day before the election, in order to be eligible to vote in that election.
Registration in person
If you choose to register to vote in person, you may deliver your registration application to the office of a county board of elections, the Secretary of State's office, a state or local office of a designated agency (see list above), the office of the registrar or any deputy registrar of motor vehicles, a public high school or vocational school, a public library, the office of a county treasurer. Your application must be received by the voter registration deadline, the 30th day before the election, in order to be eligible to vote in that election.
You also may entrust your completed registration application to another person for delivery to elections officials. However, that person must deliver your application to a county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office within 10 days after you completed the application, or by the voter registration deadline, whichever is earlier.
Do I have to sign my voter registration application?
Yes. Ohio law requires the applicant to sign the voter registration application. "Sign" or "signature" means your written, cursive-style legal mark written in your own handwriting. If you do not use a cursive-style legal mark in your regular business and legal affairs, "sign" or "signature" means any other legal mark that you use in your regular business and legal affairs that is written in your own handwriting.
What if I am unable to sign my voter registration form or other election documents?
If you are unable to sign your own name and have no other legal mark, make an "X," if possible, on the application signature line. The person who witnessed you making that mark must write his or her name beneath the signature line.
If you are unable to make an "X," you must indicate in some manner to the person assisting you that you want to register to vote. The person registering you must sign the application form and attest that you indicated that you want to register to vote.
May a person who has my "power of attorney" sign my name to my voter registration application?
No. However, if by reason of disability you are unable to physically sign your name or affix your mark to the application, you may appoint an "attorney-in-fact" in accordance with the specific requirements of R.C. 3501.382. Your attorney-in-fact then may sign a voter registration application on your behalf, but only at your direction and in your presence. Contact your county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office for the proper forms necessary to designate an "attorney-in-fact" for this purpose.
What are my obligations to keep the board of elections informed of address or name changes?
If you are already registered to vote but have moved within Ohio and/or changed your name, you must update your voter registration by submitting a new voter registration form or change of address form for your new residence and/or name.
Ohio's voter registration application also serves as a change of address and change of name form. Click here to update your address or name information online. You may also update your information in person at all locations where voter registration forms may be obtained.
If your change of name and/or address form is completed properly, the board of elections will update your registration and send you a notice reflecting your new name and/or address. If your form is incomplete, the board will send you a notice of the information necessary to update your registration. If your valid change of name and/or address form is received or postmarked by the voter registration deadline, then you will be eligible to vote a regular (rather than a provisional) ballot at that election.
You may also update your registration during the 28 days immediately before, or on the day of, an election, but this may require you to vote a "provisional ballot". For more information about provisional ballots, click here.
Do I declare my political party affiliation when I register?
No. Under Ohio election law, you declare your political party affiliation by requesting the ballot of a political party in a partisan primary election.
If you do not desire to affiliate with a political party in Ohio, you are considered to be an unaffiliated voter. An unaffiliated voter does not vote the ballot of a political party in a primary election. However, an unaffiliated voter may vote the Official Questions & Issues Ballot, if there is one for the voter's precinct at the election.
May I vote if I have been convicted of a crime?
A person currently serving time in jail or prison for a felony conviction can neither register to vote nor vote. Additionally, a person who has twice been convicted of a violation of Ohio's elections laws is permanently barred from voting in Ohio. An otherwise qualified person convicted of a misdemeanor may vote, and an otherwise qualified person who had been convicted of a felony may register and vote while on probation or parole, or after completing his or her jail or prison sentence.
The voter registration of a person who is incarcerated on a felony conviction is cancelled; once that person has completed his or her jail or prison sentence, or is on probation, parole or community control, he or she must re-register to vote by the registration deadline before voting.
For more information, click here to read Find a New Direction: Reclaim Your Right to Vote (PDF).
What happens after I submit my voter registration application?
If the information contained on your application is found to be complete and truthful, the board of elections for the county in which you reside will accept your voter registration application. The board must register you to vote not later than 20 business days after receiving your application and promptly mail a notice to your voting residence address confirming that you are registered to vote, identifying your voting precinct and the location of your precinct, and stating the identification requirements for voting.
If you do not receive a notice that your registration was accepted or rejected, please contact your county board of elections before Election Day to determine if the board received your application.
Can I check my voter information online?
Yes. You may check your voter information by performing a "Voter Information Search" on the Secretary of State's website by clicking here. If performing such a search returns the information you registered, your county board of elections has successfully processed your voter registration form. If the search does not return your information, please contact your county board of elections to check on the status of your registration. You should perform this kind of search before the deadline to register to vote so that in the event that the board of elections did not receive your information, or if it is not accurate, you have time to submit a new form before the deadline.