The Athens County Board of Elections now has two ballot boxes located outside its building that voters can use to return their absentee ballots in for the upcoming election.
One outdoor ballot box was required by the Secretary of State for all 88 counties in Ohio during the primaries, and is still required during the presidential election.
The Board of Elections has had a ballot box by its back entrance for several years, Debbie Quivey, director of Athens County Board of Elections, said. The one in the front was allowed because there are two entrances.
“We have two entrances — one at the front and one at the back — so we were allowed to have two,” Quivey said. “We wouldn’t be allowed to have one here and have one at Walmart or somewhere like that, and that’s what the difference is on those.”
Quivey believes that voter turnout will increase as a result of the ballot boxes. The number of absentee ballots has doubled since last election.
Comparing absentee ballots between this presidential election and the last presidential election, there has been a significant increase in absentee ballots requested. During the 2016 presidential election, between 4,200 and 4,500 ballots were requested. This year, there have already been about 8,400 ballots requested, Quivey said.
Maxeen Ramlo, a junior studying chemical engineering and student recruiter for Bobcats Power the Polls, also believes the ballot boxes will help improve voter turnout. She said the boxes are very visible on Court Street because of their decorations and bright colors.
“It’s also great for college students because for early voting, the times are pretty restricted, and for the ballot box, you can go and drop off your ballot whenever you can,” Ramlo said. “That’s really helpful, especially with classes and organizations. I know all of our schedules are busy, so having that 24/7 access to drop off a ballot is really helpful.”
In order to vote through the ballot boxes, voters must request an absentee ballot. An absentee ballot can be found on the Athens County Board of Elections website for printing.
If the voter does not want to go into the Board of Elections and does not have access to print the application, they can call the Board of Elections and request to have it mailed to their address. A voter can also mail a letter to the Board of Elections requesting an absentee ballot. There is a list of requirements that must be included in the letter, which can be found on the Board of Elections’ website.
The absentee ballot form needs to have the original signature of the voter and be sent back to the Board of Elections, Quivey said. The ballot cannot be faxed, due to it needing the voter’s original signature.
Absentee ballots will be sent out from the Board of Elections starting Oct. 6. Once the voter receives their ballot, they can fill it out and return it to the Board of Elections using the new outdoor ballot boxes. Otherwise, voters can turn the ballot in at the Board of Elections counter.
In order to not have an absentee ballot become disqualified, the voter needs to fill out the ballot using the instructions online. The steps are numbered, tell what needs to be filled out and when the ballot needs to be returned to the Board of Elections.
All ballots need to be at the Board of Elections by 7:30 p.m. on election night to be counted. Any voter sending their ballot by mail needs to have it postmarked the day before the election, which is Nov. 2.
The location of the two ballot boxes is toward the bottom of the Board of Elections’ website, which also has directions to get to the boxes. Voters do not have to get out of their car to turn in their ballots to the drop box, making them COVID-19 friendly.
“I’d just like to encourage everybody to vote,” Quivey said. “Voting this way, there’s been a lot of questions, a lot of controversy. This is a safe way to vote absentee. Voting is not different than it’s ever been.”