Learn how new voter ID laws affect you at three upcoming local forums

Ravenna voters cast ballots at the polling station in Maplewood Christian Church in 2021. Michael Indriolo/The Portager.

Portage County voters can find out how recent changes in Ohio election laws will affect them at three public meetings that will take place March 27, 29 and 30 in Ravenna, Aurora and Kent.

All the meetings are free and open to the public and sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kent and the League of Women Voters of Northern Portage, along with several other groups.

House Bill 458, signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine in January, affects the types of identifications that can be used to vote and varies depending on how citizens choose to vote. For instance, voters are now required to show a state-issued photo ID when voting in person; voters previously had the option to show an alternate form of ID such as a paycheck, bank statement or utility bill.

The three meetings are as follows:

  • The Monday, March 27 meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Reed Memorial Library at 167 E. Main St. in Ravenna.
  • The 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 meeting is at Aurora City Council Chambers at 130 S. Chillicothe Road in Aurora. 
  • The final meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 30 at the Kent Free Library at 312 W. Main St. in Kent.

The speaker will be Theresa Nielsen, deputy director of the Portage County Board of Elections. Nielsen will talk about changes to in-person voting, voter registration, early voting (also known as absentee voting) and other changes that went into effect with the new law.

The Leagues will have forms available to apply for an absentee ballot and to register to vote in time for the primary elections Tuesday, May 2. The deadline to register is Monday, April 3. Absentee voting applications can be submitted at any time, but they need to be in the hands of the BOE by Tuesday, April 25 so voters can receive their ballots. Absentee ballots are mailed out starting Tuesday, April 4.

Early in-person voting at the Board of Elections begins April 4 and includes the Saturday and Sunday before Election Day on May 2. The schedule for in-office absentee voting has changed with the elimination of voting at the Board of Elections the day prior to the election.

Voters will also be able to check at the meetings if they are still registered. More than 1,600 Portage County voters were purged from the rolls earlier this year by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

Voters can find helpful resources:

As affiliates of the national organization, the League of Women Voters of Kent and the League of Women Voters of Northern Portage are non-partisan political organizations encouraging the informed and active participation of citizens in government.

The events are co-sponsored by the Kent Free Library; Reed Memorial Library; Brimfield Lions; NAACP of Portage County; Kent Environmental Council; Portage County National Alliance on Mental Illness; Kent Lions; and Kent State University Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

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Tom Hardesty is a Portager sports columnist. He was formerly assistant sports editor at the Record-Courier and author of the book Glimpses of Heaven.