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Your voting primer

September 15, 2020

A student's guide to voting in the 2020 election.

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An Ohio State student votes

The Ohio State student group OSU Votes is aiming to increase participation in the upcoming election.

OSU Votes has set a pretty lofty goal for the upcoming election. As an Ohio State student, you can help.

OSU Votes — a nonpartisan, student-led group within the Office of Student Life — has the goal to get 80% of Ohio State’s students to vote in the Presidential Election on Nov. 3.

It’s a lofty goal, considering 59% of students on Ohio State campuses voted in the 2016 election. However, from the 2014 mid-term election to the 2018 one, OSU Votes helped increase student turnout on Ohio State’s campuses by 29%.

“Students feel a lot of pressure around voting because they grow up hearing how important it is, but there’s a lot of anxiety around doing it wrong,” said Alyssa Johnson, Office of Student Life coordinator of Service and Outreach and advisor to OSU Votes. “I don’t think students and young people in general are apathetic — they’re just first-time voters. There may be more hesitancy, more questions about the process.

“Our group exists to make sure students feel empowered to cast their vote because it is important.”

To help you navigate the voting process for this election, here’s your complete guide.

First, know your dates

  • Get registered: The deadline for voter registration in Ohio is Oct. 5.
  • Vote early: Early voting in Franklin County begins Oct. 6 and ends Oct. 31.
  • Request an absentee ballot: You have until noon on Oct. 31 to request your absentee ballot in Ohio.

Have your ID ready

The last thing you want to do is be turned away at your polling place because you don’t have the correct identification.

So what works?

  • A photo ID, such as a driver’s license or a state ID. This year, that could include an expired driver’s license. This year, because of COVID-19 shutdowns, the Secretary of State and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles are allowing people to have an expired license as long as it falls between March 9 and Dec. 1.
  • A military ID.
  • A copy of a current utility bill, because it shows a current address.
  • A BuckeyeLink statement of account for college students, also because it shows a current address and is an official document from an institution.
  • Voting early? Those who vote early in person only need to provide the last four digits of their social security number if they don’t have an Ohio driver’s license or non-driver ID card.

What does not work?

  • Passports.
  • Your BuckID.

Need some help? OSU Votes is able to help print statements of accounts or utility bills in the resource room located in the Ohio Union. It is located within the Keith B. Key center on the second floor of the Union.

Where are you voting?

Any Ohio State student can register to vote in Franklin County using a campus address. And there are five polling locations on the Columbus campus. Make sure to check and double check your polling location here.  

If you are an out-of-state voter and want to vote in your permanent home address, OSU Votes Student Ambassadors can help. Send an email to to contact them. You can also use to find out information for voter registration, early voting or absentee ballot information for any state.

Absentee voting

First, complete an absentee ballot request form. You can request one from the Secretary of State’s website or pick one up at OSU Votes, the Ohio Union or in the Athletics Office in the Fawcett Center.

Mail your request to the Board of Elections by noon Oct. 31. The Board of Elections will mail you an absentee ballot. Fill it out and mail it by Nov. 2 or drop it off at the Board of Elections on Election Day before it closes at 7:30 p.m.

On your ballot, be sure to sign your name. About 11,000 unsigned absentee ballots were thrown out in the March primary.


  • is an incredible website created by the League of Women Voters. can help you get registered to vote, check your registration and even see what’s on the ballots anywhere in the United States.
  • OSU Votes has any information you need. And if you have questions or problems, you can contact a Student Ambassador who can help.  
  • TurboVote allows students to sign up for Election Day reminders, double check registration information and apply for absentee ballots.
  • The Franklin County Board of Elections’ Instagram and Twitter accounts are also good sources for updated information. 

Need more motivation? How about beating That Team Up North?

Ohio State is part of the Big Ten Voter Challenge, which pits all 14 Big Ten schools against each other to see which one can have the biggest Election Day turnout. So not voting isn’t much of an option. 


Want to take your voter involvement to the next level? Ohio is in need of poll workers. Many are over the age of 60 years old and could be at a health risk for participating in the upcoming election. You’ll be paid and you’ll be making the voting process smoother. You can register here.