Important voter information for the May 3 election: Early voting, ballot curing and more

Photo by DJ Johnson

The Portage County Board of Elections announced the hours it will be open to the public following the May 3 election to resolve any problems with absentee and provisional ballots. 

Any number of issues can trigger the need to “cure” errors on a ballot, including missing I.D. envelopes or information on them that doesn’t match the county voter database. If this happens, the Board of Elections sends the voter a letter indicating what the problem is, along with instructions to fix the error and return the ballot to the Board of Elections by mail or in person by the end of the ballot cure period: 5 p.m. May 10.

Poll workers may also provide provisional ballots to a person who shows up at their polling location without proper I.D. In that case, the person is given time to cure the error by presenting the Board of Elections with proper identification by May 10, said Board of Elections Deputy Director Theresa Nielsen.

Portage County voters can come to the Board of Elections at 449 S. Meridian St. in Ravenna during the following times: 

  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 4 through Saturday, May 7
  • 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 8
  • 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 9 and Tuesday, May 10

Absentee early voting

People who wish to vote absentee at the Board of Elections office may do so during the following times:

  • 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day until Friday, April 29
  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 30
  • 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 1
  • 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, May 2

No voting will take place at the Board of Elections office on Election Day. However, voters can drop their completed ballots off at the Board of Elections office until 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, or may use the dropbox in the parking lot until 7:30 p.m.

Mailed ballots must be postmarked by May 2.

Polling locations

Visit their website if you are unsure of where your polling location is. For Kent voters who used to vote at Franklin Elementary School, the new polling location is Central School at 200 N. Mantua St.

Ballot security

The Board of Elections occasionally fields phone calls from people insisting that their voting machines are connected to the internet (they’re not) or that votes are somehow being changed.

Nielsen said all voters have the opportunity to review their votes before submitting them, and that once poll workers remove the stub attached to the ballot, there is no way to determine who submitted it. (Different rules apply when the ballot is provisional or the voter is 17 years old, she said.)

Along with their voting materials, absentee and provisional voters must submit a statement affirming that all information is true. If it is found to be in error intentionally, the person faces a fifth degree felony charge.

The last time the Portage County Board of Elections had to forward names to the Portage County prosecutor’s office was in the November 2020 general election, when less than a half dozen ballots caused sufficient concern. None of the submissions rose to the level of prosecution, Nielsen said, explaining that most of the time people are just confused by the process.

Regardless of where a voter used to live, or used to be registered, “You always, always, always vote where you live,” she advised.

This article was updated to explain ballot drop-offs at the Board of Elections office.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.

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