Voter Registration FAQs
Ohio law requires the applicant to sign the voter registration application. “Sign” or “signature” means your written, cursive-style legal mark written in your own handwriting. If you do not use a cursive-style mark in your regular business and legal affairs, “sign” or “signature” means any other legal mark that you use in your regular business and legal affairs that is written in your own handwriting. Online registrations use the signature from your Ohio driver license or Ohio identification card.
Generally, signing or affixing a signature to an election-related document requires a person’s written, cursive-style legal mark written in that person’s own hand. However, a voter with a disability may personally affix his or her signature through the use of a reasonable accommodation, including the use of assistive technology or an augmentative device such as a signature stamp.
If you are unable to sign your own name and have no other legal mark, make an “X,” if possible, in the signature box of the form. The individual assisting you with completing the form must sign his or her name below your “X”.
If you are unable to make an “X,” you must indicate in some manner that you desire to register to vote or to change your name or residence. The individual assisting you must sign the form and attest that you indicated that you desired to register to vote or to change your name or residence.
A “power of attorney” cannot sign a person’s name to a voter registration. If by reason of disability you are unable to physically sign your name or affix your mark to the application, you may appoint an “attorney-in-fact” in accordance with the specific requirements in R.C. 3501.382. Your attorney-in-fact then may sign a voter registration application on your behalf, but only at your direction and in your presence. Contact us for the proper forms necessary to designate an “attorney-in-fact” for this purpose.
After processing your registration the Board of Elections will mail a notice to your voting residence address identifying your voting precinct location.
If your voter registration form is incomplete, the board will mail a letter informing you they were unable to process your registration due to missing/incomplete information, a new Voter Registration and Information Update Form, and a postage-paid return envelope so that you can submit a new complete registration.
If you do not receive a notice that your registration was accepted or rejected, contact the board of elections. The deadline for registering/changing your address/changing your name is 30 days prior to an election; voters are advised to contact the board of elections BEFORE the 30 day deadline so they have time to submit another registration if their first registration was not received.
Your residence is important because it determines the contests for which you are eligible to vote (e.g., the proper congressional district, school district, etc.). Your voting residence is determined by the county board of elections using guidelines established by Ohio law (R.C. 3503.02). Your voting residence is the place in which your habitation is fixed and to which, whenever your are absent, you intend to return. Also, your voting residence is a location you consider to be a permanent, not a temporary residence. You will not lose your voting residence in Ohio if you leave temporarily and intend to return to Ohio, unless you are absent from the state for four consecutive years. Contact us if you have questions regarding your specific situation.
(Exception: You will not lose your residency after four years if your absence from Ohio is due to your employment with Ohio or the U.S. government, including military service, unless you vote in, or permanently move to, another state or country.)
If you do not have a fixed place of habitation, but you are a consistent or regular inhabitant of a shelter or other location to which you intend to return, you may use that shelter or other location as your residence for purposes of registering to vote.
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 addresses. College students who register to vote from a school residence address in Ohio will be required to produce valid ID to cast a ballot.
Yes. If you have moved within Ohio and/or changed your name, you must update your voter registration. The options for changing your address and/or your name are the same as registering to vote. Go to Register to Vote page
If your Voter Registration & Information Update Form is complete, the board of elections will update your registration and send you a notice reflecting your new name and/or address and your new polling location. If your form is incomplete, the board will send you a letter and a new form to complete and submit.
If your complete form is received and postmarked by the voter registration deadline (30 days prior to Election Day), you will be eligible to vote a regular (rather than a provisional) ballot at that election.
You may also update your registration during the 28 days immediately before, or on the day of, an election, but this may require you to vote a “provisional ballot”.
If you are already registered to vote but have changed your name after the voter registration deadline, you may appear at your polling location on Election Day, provide proof of legal name change (Court Order, Marriage License, or proof of legal name change that includes your current and your former name), complete SOS-prescribed form 10-L and cast a regular ballot.
If you have moved outside Ohio, complete a cancellation form and return it in the mail. When you register to vote in your new state, list your Hamilton County address as your previous address so the board will be notified.
No. Under Ohio law, you declare your political party affiliation by requesting the ballot of a political party in a partisan primary election.
If you do not desire to affiliate with a political party in Ohio, you are considered an unaffiliated voter. An unaffiliated voter does not vote that ballot of a political party in a primary election. However, an unaffiliated voter may vote the Official Questions & Issues Ballot, if there is one for the voter’s precinct at the election.
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 election laws is permanently barred from voting in Ohio. An otherwise qualified person convicted of a misdemeanor may vote, and an otherwise qualified person who has 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 or community control, he or she must re-register to vote by the registration deadline before voting.