ELECTION 2020: Your voting questions answered about postage, counting of early ballots

More than two million ballots headed to Ohioans' mailboxes last week with thousands more casting votes early in person.

As many as half the voters casting ballots by mail this year will be doing so for the first time, leading to many questions including ones submitted through an online form at DaytonDailyNews.com. where we will continue to take readers' questions about voting through Nov. 3.

ExploreEverything you need to know about where, when you can vote early in Ohio

Here are answers to two timely questions.

Question: If we drop our ballets off at the post office is a stamp required?

Answer: Yes, and maybe more than one stamp depending on which county you live in — and in some cases where you live within a county.

A 55-cent Forever Stamp will suffice in Clark, Miami, Montgomery, Preble and Warren counties. But in Butler and Greene counties, a ballot will require 70 cents postage, according to elections directors there.

Urbana voters will need to pay 65 cents in postage because the ballot is thicker due to eight city charter amendments on the ballot, but one Forever Stamp will cover those in the rest of Champaign County.

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It’s a voter’s responsibility to ensure a ballot has enough postage, according to the Ohio Secretary of State. Paperwork that comes with a mail-in ballot should specify how much postage is required. To be accepted, mail-in ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 2, the day before Election Day.

“The clock has started, so don’t wait to return it. Make sure your voice is heard,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

If you delay and are returning your ballot by mail the week before Election Day, LaRose’s office recommends taking the ballot to a USPS customer service window to ensure it receives a postmark.

A postage label purchased at a USPS window will provide the date, which is also a postmark and is the USPS-recommended way to postmark a ballot, according to the Ohio Secretary of State. If using stamps, ask for your ballot to be postmarked.

The Secretary of State warns against using a postage meter or an online service like stamps.com for ballot postage.

Never fax or email a ballot. If a voted ballot is faxed or emailed it will not be accepted nor counted, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

ExploreHere’s how much postage you need to mail your ballot back in area counties

Question: Are any ballots, absentee or early-voting, actually counted before Nov. 3?

Answer: No. But mail-in and early ballots cast in-person will be among the first counted after polls close at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 3.

“Nothing can be counted or tabulated until Election Day,” said Jan Kelly, Montgomery County Board of Elections director.

Boards of Elections, however, are allowed to open mail-in ballots beforehand and have them flattened ready to be fed through a ballot scanner, Kelly said.

“But I’m not allowed to count them,” she said. “I can just get them ready. Then we tabulate all the votes at 7:35 on election night, including the first group which are the absentee ballots and early in-person ballots.”

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Kelly said there is a misconception among some voters that absentee ballots don’t get counted.

“Everything’s counted,” she said. “We get that same question every year: Do absentee ballots count? Yes, they do. They always did and they always will.”

How much postage does your mail-in ballot require?

Butler County, 70 cents

Clark County, 55 cents

Greene County, 70 cents

Miami County, 55 cents

Montgomery County, 55 cents

Preble County, 55 cents

Warren County, 55 cents

Source: County boards of elections

When you can vote early in person

Early in-person voting hours are uniform across Ohio’s counties.

Monday-Friday, Oct. 12-Oct 16, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Monday-Friday, Oct. 19-Oct. 23, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 24, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 25, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Monday-Friday, Oct. 26-Oct. 30, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 31, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 1, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where to vote early in person

Butler County Board of Elections

1802 Princeton Road, Suite 600, Hamilton, OH 45011 Telephone: (513) 887-3700 Fax: (513) 887-5535 E-mail: butler@OhioSoS.gov Website: elections.bcohio.gov

Champaign County Board of Elections

1512 S. U.S. 68, Suite L100, Urbana, OH 43078 Telephone: (937) 484-1575 Fax: (937) 484-1578 E-mail: champaig@OhioSoS.gov Website: www.boe.ohio.gov/champaign/

Clark County Board of Elections

CHANGE: Turner Studio Theatre at the Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 S. Fountain Avenue. Mailing Address: PO Box 1766 Springfield, OH 45501-1766 Telephone: (937) 521-2120 Fax: (937) 328-2603 E-mail: elections@clark.boe.ohio.gov Website: www.boe.ohio.gov/clark/

Greene County Board of Elections

551 Ledbetter Road, Xenia, OH 45385 Telephone: (937) 562-6170 Fax: (937) 562-6171 E-mail: greene@OhioSoS.gov Website: www.greene.boe.ohio.gov

Miami County Board of Elections

215 W. Main St., Troy, OH 45373 Telephone: (937) 440-3900 Fax: (937) 440-3901 E-mail: miami@OhioSoS.gov Website: www.boe.ohio.gov/miami/

Montgomery County Board of Elections

451 W. Third St. Dayton, OH 45422 Telephone: (937) 225-5656 Fax: (937) 496-7798 E-mail: montgome@OhioSoS.gov Website: www.montgomery.boe.ohio.gov

Warren County Board of Elections

520 Justice Dr., Lebanon, OH 45036 Telephone: (513) 695-1358 Fax: (513) 695-2953 E-mail: wcboe@warrencountyohio.gov Website: vote.warrencountyohio.gov

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