Registered to vote? You have until Monday

SANDUSKY OK, procrastinators, this is your last chance. If you want to participate in
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



OK, procrastinators, this is your last chance.

If you want to participate in the Nov. 4 general election, you must register to vote soon.

Monday is the last day in Ohio to register to vote for the election, said Jennifer Ferback, deputy director of the Erie County Election Board.

The office will be open Monday at its usual 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekday hours, but will also be open from 6-9 p.m. for anyone who needs a last-minute chance to register.

Local residents who don't want to wait until 8:59 p.m. Monday can register to vote at any public library or any bureau of motor vehicles.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 54,431 Erie County residents were registered to vote.

Registrations and absentee ballot applications have been flooding into the election board office, located on the first floor office of the County Services Center, 2900 Columbus Ave.

As Ferback talked about the rules for registering to vote, she chose to remain seated at her desk, within easy reach of a telephone that rang constantly. Four stacks of filled-out voter registration forms sat in front of her.

Two other full-time election employees, Pat Parsons and Joanne Harris, also appeared to be busy with heaps of paper piled in front of them.

Harris said she had gone to the post office Tuesday to mail 40 absentee ballots to local military people serving overseas.

"The post office is going to express them out in a special packet," she said. "We have them going to Kuwait and Iraq."

During the same trip to the post office, Harris mailed 28 absentee ballots to civilians from Erie County who are out of the country.

Anyone who has been an Ohio resident for 30 days may register to vote, provided he or she is a U.S. citizen, has not been declared incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court or has not lost the right to vote for violating election laws.

An additional requirement: The would-be voter must be 18 years old by election day.

"Sandusky High School just brought in a stack of registrations this morning," Ferback said.

One more rule: The would-be voter cannot be doing time in jail or prison for a felony conviction.

Convicted felons may register to vote once they are freed from prison. People doing time, however, are purged from the voter rolls, so they'll need to register again.

If you aren't sure if you are registered to vote, pick up the phone and call the election board.

"If they aren't registered, they can't register after Monday," Ferback said.

Voters can also check their registration at the Erie County election board's Web site.

The election board has begun allowing early birds to cast in-person absentee ballots during normal business hours. It's a good way to avoid the long lines on election day. Through Monday, voters can register to vote at the office and then immediately cast a ballot.

Some voters still have the misconception that absentee ballots are counted after other ballots, or that they only are counted if a race turns out to be close.

In fact, absentee ballots are the first ones the election board counts, and they are included when the first results are released on election night.