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Study the new rules, then go to the polls early

There are several changes in Ohio concerning identification requirements when voting and absentee voting regulations that students should be aware of before they vote this November.

Students who choose to vote in this election should be ready for a new identification law.

The law, House Bill 3, requires voters to produce identification with their current address, such as a utility bill or paycheck before being allowed to vote.

Voters also can give the last four digits of their Social Security number and vote using a provisional ballot instead.

All registered voters will also be able to vote this year using absentee ballots without needing to give a reason, thanks to a passed statewide ballot initiative.

This year all on-campus registered students will be able to vote in the Multicultural Lounge on the second floor of the Union.

Where off-campus students vote depends on where they live in the city.

“We tried to reach out to the campus community to get registered and participate,” said Terry Burton, deputy director of the Wood County Board of Elections.

Burton said this included giving voter registration forms to all residential advisors.

The board is charged with organizing, keeping track of and running all parts of the election process.

All on or off-campus students can vote in Bowling Green or Wood County on Ohio ballot issues if they wish, as long as they registered 30 days before the election using their local address.

In-state students also can vote absentee in their home county if they feel more attached to issues there, or if their schedule is too busy to make it to the local polls on election days.

Absentee ballots are available on the board’s Web site and are due at noon Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Bowling Green courthouse.

The actual voting process takes only around five minutes, according to Ellen Dalton, vice-president for membership of the League of Women Voters.

She advised student voters to get to the polls early to beat the rush.

Once at the polls, student voters will find new electronic voting machines throughout Ohio, but Burton said these should cause no problems for students.

“It’s technology students have grown up with,” he said.

If problems do arise, either with the technology or registration issues or the voting process, voters should contact the poll workers at their precinct, said Dalton, who will also be a poll worker in this election.

Poll workers will be at the voter sign-in table at all voting precincts, including at the University, and are always willing to help, according to Dalton.

Voters can also contact the Wood County Board of Elections with questions before or after voting.

“Our staff is happy to talk them through it,” Burton said.

But Burton stressed that concerns and issues should be brought up at the polls or before election day – the day after is often too late for officials to do anything.

For more information on the voting process, visit the Board of Elections at http://www.co.wood.oh.us/boe or call (419) 354-9120

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