COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio’s elections officials say voting absentee by mail is a safe and secure process. The Franklin County Board of Elections gave NBC4 a behind-the-scenes tour Monday to explain what happens after a ballot arrives at the facility.
“Security is obviously of high-importance,” said Aaron Sellers, the public information officer at the Franklin County Board of Elections.
He explained each step when receiving and processing ballots is bipartisan. State law requires a registered republican and registered democrat to be present when unlocking the ballot boxes, retrieving ballots from inside, unlocking the ballot room and during sorting and processing.
“These are under double lock and key,” Sellers said of the ballots in the ballot room. “We’ve got live ballots so the security is ramped up.”
Once inside the ballot room, staff sorts each ballot and hand checks them for any errors.
“What we do on the front end is done on the back end — as far as verifying the signature, the social security number or the driver’s license number.” Sellers said.
If any errors are discovered, the Board of Elections will notify the voter with a ‘remedy letter’ explaining the missing or incorrect information. The voter is then permitted to submit the corrections.
The latest numbers released Sunday evening show 346,773 absentee ballots have been requested in Franklin County. Of those, 237,705 have been returned and 231,128 have been verified. The “good” incoming ballots will be scanned daily, but won’t be tabulated until the polls close on November 3.
“You’ll know when we know – as far as when numbers start populating. And that will happen after 7:30 on election night,” Sellers said. “There will be a big chunk of numbers that hit at 7:30 on election night – probably a lot more than in typical years.”
For the first time, election results posted on the Secretary of State’s website will include a running total of outstanding ballots which have not been returned.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon on Saturday, but Secretary of State Frank LaRose recommends requesting one by Tuesday, October 27 to ensure enough time for mail delivery ahead of election day.