Why you might see multiple ballot applications in your mailbox

Absentee Application Form Hamilton County
Posted at 9:57 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 13:20:37-04

CINCINNATI — Have you received two or three ballot applications in the mail that look nothing alike? Turns out, elections officials said, there’s a reasonable explanation.

With the November election just 42 days away, there is some confusion surrounding absentee ballots being mailed, specifically what’s real and what’s not. While all of the ballot applications you receive in the mail may be legitimate, there are some things you should know before you send one in.

Hamilton County Board of Elections Executive Director Sherry Poland said the Ohio Secretary of State’s office will send an application to every registered voter in Ohio. But, nonprofits and campaigns send them out as well, and while some may look unusual, they’re perfectly legal.

“A voter can choose,” Poland explained. “If they receive multiple forms, they simply choose which one they’d rather submit to the board of elections.”

Poland said you should only complete and return one absentee ballot application.

“If you want to make sure, voters want to confirm, we have received their application, they can do that on our website, under 'track absentee ballot,' or simply call the board of elections. We have a help desk set up.”

Everyone’s actual ballot will look the same, making it easily identifiable to voters and the post office. To double-check for accuracy, you can head to the board of election’s website, where you can enter your address and see a sample ballot.

MORE: Find key dates, resources, FAQs and more on WCPO's Elections Guide

Poland said that despite the multiple ballot applications you might receive, there are fail-safes in place to make sure everyone gets only one ballot.

“We’re fortunate in the state of Ohio that we have had no-fault absentee since 2006. We’ve been doing this for well over a decade. The proper security and procedures are in place,” she said.

No matter how you choose to vote -- early absentee, early in-person or Election Day in-person voting -- Poland and her staff ask you to make a choice as soon as possible.

“Don’t leave it sitting on your kitchen counter for a week or two before you mail it in,” Poland said “Get it back to us so we make sure we can have those results as quick as possible on Election Night.”

Ballots can arrive at the board of elections as late as 7:30 p.m. on Election Night, and ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 2 and received at the board by Nov. 13 are added to the official count released weeks after Election Day.