Voter Eligibility & Residency Requirements

Voter Eligibility & Residency Requirements

Does everyone who wants to vote in Ohio have to be registered to vote here?

Yes.

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What are the qualifications to register and to vote in Ohio?

You are qualified to register to vote in Ohio if you meet all the following requirements:

  1. You are a citizen of the United States;
  2. You will be at least 18 years old on or before the day of the next general election. (If you will be 18 on or before the general election, you may vote in the primary election to nominate candidates, but you cannot vote on issues or party central committees until you are 18);
  3. You will be a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days immediately before the election in which you want to vote;
  4. You are not incarcerated (in prison or jail) for a felony conviction under the laws of this state, another state, or the United States;
  5. You have not been declared incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court; and
  6. You have not been permanently disenfranchised for violating the election laws.

You are eligible to vote in elections held in your voting precinct 30 days after you are duly registered to vote in this state. You may request an absentee ballot during that 30 day period.

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Where is my residence for voting purposes?

Your residence is important because it determines which offices and issues you are eligible to vote on (e.g., the proper congressional district, school district, etc.). Under Ohio law, your residence is (1) the location that you consider to be a permanent, not a temporary, residence and (2) the place where your habitation is fixed and where, whenever you are absent, you intend to return. If you do not have a fixed place of habitation, but you are a consistent or regular inhabitant of a shelter or other location where you intend to return, you may use that location as your residence for the purposes of registering to vote.

Ohio is not considered your voting residence when:

  • You have moved to another state and vote in that state;
  • You have moved to another state and intend to make that state your residence;
  • You moved to another state and continuously reside outside of Ohio for a period of 4 years or more.

There are specific circumstances where you maintain your Ohio voting residence even though you are absent from the state.  You will not lose your voting residency in Ohio if:

  • You leave temporarily and intend to return to Ohio;
  • You are absent from Ohio due to your services with the United States government or state of Ohio;
  • You have moved outside of the United States.

If you are a military voter, or the spouse or dependent of a military voter, your voting residence is the place in Ohio where you lived immediately before leaving Ohio for your military service.

If you were born outside of and continue to reside outside of the United States, but have a parent or guardian who last resided in and was last eligible to vote in Ohio before leaving the United States, your parent or guardian’s Ohio residence would be considered your voting residence.

If you have questions about your specific residency circumstances, you may contact your local board of elections for further information.

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May a college student register and vote from his or her school address in Ohio?

It depends. A college student may vote using his or her Ohio school residence address if the student does not intend to return to a different permanent address. When a college student registers to vote from his or her school address, the school residence is considered to be the place to which the student's habitation is fixed and to which, whenever the student is absent, the student intends to return, and is considered by the student to be his or her permanent residence at the time of voting. Any other previous residence for voting purposes is no longer valid. It is illegal for a person to register and vote from two different addresses.

For more information about voting in college, click here.

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Military and Overseas Voters

Note: State and federal law make additional accommodations for military and overseas voters. Please visit www.OhioMilitaryVotes.com for more information

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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.

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