Ohioans who want to vote by mail or drop off their ballots technically have until Oct. 31 to request a ballot, but election officials said absentee voters should request one sooner rather than later.
The United States Postal Service advised Ohio absentee voters to have their ballots in the mail at least one week prior to the deadline (Oct. 27). The state requires absentee ballots to be postmarked by Nov. 2 — the day before the election — in order to be counted.
Trey Grayson, former Kentucky Secretary of State, said voters who wait until the Oct. 31 deadline to request an absentee ballot might be taking a gamble.
"Just because you can do something doesn't mean it will work … those deadlines don't necessarily correspond to reality,” Grayson said.
Grayson, who has experience with several elections in the Commonwealth, said he’s seen deadlines that have no regard for turnaround time.
For instance, Connecticut, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota will take requests up until the day before the election.
"They're usually chosen to try to create things, to try to create opportunities. The other problem is, that for many states they're seeing a vast increase in processing absentee ballots,” Grayson said.
That increase could create delays in getting ballots to the post office.
In Hamilton County, Chair of the Board of Elections Gwen McFarlin said she’s worried future requests could result in ballots that arrive too late to be counted.
"We ask all the voters who are planning to request a ballot to request now, yesterday, the week before, weeks before, not at the last minute,” McFarlin said.
The post office expects five to seven-day turnarounds but has warned that delays are possible.
McFarlin said Ohio absentee voters who have waited until this point (Oct. 8) to request a ballot should plan on returning them to a drop box at their county board of elections to ensure they’re counted.
Anyone dropping off a ballot must do so at the board of elections by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
Click here for a county board of elections directory.