BATAVIA, Ohio — The start of election season in Ohio triggered a barrage of concerned emails from WCPO viewers who have questions about the ballot-request-form verification calls they’re receiving from election officials. If you haven’t gotten one of these calls, you might soon, and you might also be confused or suspicious of an election official attempting to verify the signature on your absentee ballot or ballot request form is really yours.
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be. These calls are really made by election officials, and their purpose is to ensure that ballots go to the right person — and that an absentee ballot with small errors, such as a missing piece of information, can be corrected by the voter and counted properly.
We took questions from viewers directly to Julia Carney, who heads up the Clermont County Board of Elections, to learn more about why election officials might call you this year and what you should do about it.
Here’s what she said.
What does it mean if someone calls me about a “signature match”?
They are calling if the signature on the application is significantly different than the one we have in our (voter registration) records. If you leave out a middle initial or something like that, you won’t get a call.
What are other reasons I might get a call about information on my ballot application?
We do make calls if you leave out your date of birth, the signature doesn’t match or you don’t provide a driver’s license or Social Security number.
Does the person calling me know my party affiliation?
The person calling does not know the party affiliation.
What happens if I miss the call? Do I just not get my vote counted?
If you don’t call us back, we will send you a letter and ballot three or four days after that, requesting that you re-submit your application with all the information that’s required.
What if I request an absentee ballot and then decide I want to vote in person? Will I be allowed?
You are able to vote early in person at the board of elections with a regular ballot. We do ask, if you have that absentee ballot, that you bring it with you. It’s considered a spoiled ballot.
At the polls on Election Day, you would have to vote a provisional ballot.
Bottom line, if the phone rings and the caller says it’s my county board of elections, do I pick up?
Take that call. I mean, obviously people can spoof caller IDs, but here’s the thing: They’re going to call you, and then you’re going to go to the courthouse. They’re not going to spoof the courthouse.
The courthouse is the courthouse, or the county board of elections, wherever it’s located. It’s going to be clear that it’s a government building. You can trust that call, and you can trust that request.
Please go in and fix the issue so your vote can count.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.