Frequently Asked Questions

Military and Overseas Voting

How do I register to vote? How do I request an absentee ballot?

Registering to vote and applying for an absentee ballot are as simple as completing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) form (download a form from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website (www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/materials/forms)) and returning it to your local board of elections. A completed FPCA serves a dual purpose. You can use the FPCA to register to vote if you are not already registered or update your registration AND to apply for an absentee ballot for the entire calendar year.

Qualified electors who are members of the uniformed services or residing overseas may apply for an absentee ballot in any of the following ways:

  1. You may use the FPCA. The FPCA may be used both to register to vote AND to request absentee ballots.
  2. You also may request an absentee ballot using Ohio Secretary of State prescribed Form 11-A: Application for Absent Voter’s Ballot.
  3. If you already are a registered Ohio voter, you may designate an eligible relative to request an absentee ballot on your behalf by using the Secretary of State prescribed Form 11-E: Application by Relative for Uniformed Services Absent Voter’s Ballot or the FPCA.

Prescribed Forms

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Who may use the Federal Post Card Application?

The federal government and the State of Ohio permit the use of the FPCA by uniformed services voters and overseas voters.

Uniformed Services Voters must be U.S. citizens who are members of a uniformed service, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the merchant marines, and their eligible spouses and dependents.

Overseas Voters must currently live outside the U.S. but who, before leaving the U.S., were last eligible to vote in Ohio or would have been eligible to vote in Ohio had they been 18 years of age or older, or were born outside the U.S. and have a parent or guardian who last resided and was last eligible to vote in Ohio before leaving the U.S.

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May someone else request an absentee ballot on my behalf?

Yes. If you are already registered to vote, your spouse, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandfather, grandmother, brother or sister of the whole blood or half blood, son, daughter, adopting parent, adopted child, stepparent, stepchild, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece may request a ballot for you. Any of those relatives may use the Secretary of State prescribed Form 11-E Application by Relative for Uniform Service Absentee Voter’s Ballot (PDF), providing an address, e-mail address or fax number at which you can receive the absentee ballot.

Those same persons may use the FPCA to request an absentee ballot on your behalf, providing a mailing address, fax number or e-mail address at which you are able to receive the absentee ballot. This request may be made by mail or in person at your local board of elections.

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When may I apply for an absentee ballot?

When you complete the FPCA, one request allows you to receive absentee ballots for all elections (primary, general, or any special elections) during a full calendar year. While you may complete and return the FPCA at any time, a FPCA returned to your local board of elections at the beginning of each year on or after January 1st or 90 days before an election, whichever is earlier, will serve as a request for absentee ballots for every election in that calendar year. Otherwise, a completed FPCA returned by mail, fax, or e-mail not earlier than 90 days before an election and not later than 12 noon on the third day before the election will allow you to receive an absentee ballot for that election and all subsequent elections in that calendar year. You can also return an application in person to a board of elections office during in-person absentee voting hours.

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How do I submit my Federal Post Card Application?

First, complete and sign the FPCA (download from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website (www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/materials/forms)).

You may then attach a digital copy of the completed and signed form to an e-mail to your county board of elections. OR You may also detach it, fold and seal it, and put it in the mail. When mailed from any U.S. post office, APO/FPO mail facility, or U.S. embassy or consulate, this return envelope is postage-paid. OR You may also fax the completed form to your county board of elections. Please remember that in order to be a valid voter registration application and/or absentee ballot application, the FPCA must be completed and signed. If you need additional copies of the FPCA, you can print it from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website (www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/materials/forms).

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How will I receive my absentee ballot?

Eligible military and overseas voters may ask to receive a ballot in any one of the following ways:

  • By e-mail: Your completed and signed absentee ballot request form may be e-mailed to the board of elections office in the county in which you are registered to vote. The board must receive your request by noon on the Saturday before the election. You may request that the board fax, mail, or e-mail your ballot to you, but you must return your marked ballot by mail.
  • By mail: Beginning January 1 or 90 days before an election, whichever is earlier, you may mail your properly-completed absentee ballot application, bearing your signature, to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located. The board must receive your request by noon on the Saturday before the election. However, you should submit your request as far in advance of the election as possible to ensure there is sufficient time for the board to mail, fax, or e-mail you a ballot. Your marked ballot must be returned by mail.
  • By fax: You may fax your absentee ballot request to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located. The board must receive your request by noon on the Saturday before the election. You may request that the board fax, mail, or e-mail your ballot to you, but you must return your marked ballot by mail.
  • In person: Once absentee ballots are available, you may go to your county board of elections office or other site designated by the board of elections to cast your ballot in person.

When the board of elections issues your ballot, it will provide you with information on how to track the status of your ballot. You may do so through the “Ballot Tracking” option in the Voter Toolkit.

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How can I find out what candidates and issues are on the ballot?

The Secretary of State's Office maintains a list of statewide issues and candidates and will post this list as soon as it is compiled for each election. For local issues and candidates, each board of elections is required to prepare and update an election notice containing a list of all ballot questions and issues and all federal, state, and local offices the board expects to be on the ballot for each precinct holding an election. You may request a copy of this election notice from your local board of elections, or you may view your county’s sample ballot as it becomes available for each election by selecting “Sample Ballot” through the Voter Toolkit.

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How will I return my voted ballot? What is the deadline for return of the ballot?

Voted absentee ballots cannot be returned electronically.

Voted ballots may be returned only by U.S. Postal Service or another delivery service such as UPS or FedEx, or in person. An absentee ballot must arrive at the board office by the close of polls on Election Day if delivered in person. An absentee ballot returned by mail shall be submitted for mailing not later than 12:01 a.m. on the date of the election at the place where the voter completes the ballot. It must arrive at the board of elections office on or before the 10th day after the election.

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How do I know that my local board of elections received my voted absentee ballot?

You will receive a tracking number from your county board of elections with your absentee ballot. In addition, you may use the tracking number through the Voter Toolkit to verify that your local board of elections has received your absentee ballot.

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What happens if I mail a completed FPCA to my local board of elections, but do not receive my absentee ballot?
When should I use a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB)?

If you have requested an absentee ballot, but have not received a ballot close to Election Day, a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) can be downloaded from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website (www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/materials/forms). The completed and signed FWAB must be mailed and received at the board office by the 10th day after Election Day. You may request a copy of the election notice prepared by your local board of elections or view the sample ballot for your county through the Voter Toolkit to use as a guide when completing your FWAB so that you know which candidates, questions, or issues are on the ballot.

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Why do I have to declare my party affiliation for primary elections?

Ohio law requires all voters who wish to vote in a primary election to declare the party whose ballot they wish to vote in the primary. A voter who does not declare a political party affiliation at a primary election is only permitted to vote on the non-candidate ballot questions and issues for which the voter is otherwise eligible. If you have not designated a political party affiliation or if you have requested an issues-only ballot, but there are no questions or issues on the ballot in a particular election, you will not receive an absentee ballot for that election. You do not have to declare a party to vote in the General Election.

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How can I find out the results of an election?

Results can be found on the Ohio Secretary of State's website.

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What is “Vote in Honor of a Veteran” about?

It’s an opportunity to honor anyone who has served in our military by dedicating your vote to them. Just fill out a request card online or by call the Military Liaison (614) 466-2585.

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