Voting Rules - 2/21/08

JEFF: The primary election day is almost here. On March 4th, you can cast your ballot for your choice for your party's, Presidential nominee. It used to be that voting seemed so simple: you'd go to the polls, get your ballot, and vote. Now it is not so simple. If you're not prepared, you could lose your right to vote. Here to explain is attorney Michael Solomon.

JEFF: How could we lose our right to vote?

MIKE: You need to bring "proper" identification with you to the polls to verify your identity. That could include a driver's license, a current utility bill, bank statement or government document. If you don't have one of these documents you will still be able to vote with a provisional ballot. After the election you have ten days to go to the Board of Elections to provide the proper identification. Otherwise, you lose your right to vote.

JEFF: We all know about aggravating problems that have occurred in past elections, with voting machines not working, and long delays at some polls. Cuyahoga county election officials are encouraging people to vote absentee before the upcoming election, to avoid hassles. How does this work?

MIKE: Absentee voting is actually easier than it used to be. You no longer need a special reason to vote absentee. You have until Saturday before the election, March 1st, to obtain your absentee ballot. Your absentee ballot must be received by the Board of elections by election day at 7:30pm. There is one exception. If the ballot is mailed from outside the US, it can be received up to 20 days after the presidential primary.

JEFF: Because the Democratic presidential contest is so close, many feel that Republicans and independents may vote in the democratic primary. How can they do this if they are already registered republicans or independents?

MIKE: In Ohio it is easy to switch parties. You declare what party you are a member of by asking for the ballot for the republican primary or the democratic primary when you go to vote. If you voted for a different political party in 2005 or 2006, then you will merely have to sign a statement at the polls confirming the change of your political party affiliation. In some other states that is not so easy. For example in California when you register to vote you declare your party affiliation, or that you do not want to declare your affiliation. So when it came time to vote in the California primary, unless you previously registered as a Republican, you could not vote in the Republican primary.

Your vote is crucial. If you have any questions, give the Board of Elections a call or visit their web site.