IN A little more than five weeks, the nation will hand the Republicans or Democrats control of Congress. Ohioans will send either a Republican or Democrat to the governor's mansion, and will decide numerous other statewide and local races and issues.
For voters, going to the polls cold be daunting, given the new mandate to show identification and because of the new "no-fault" absentee voting. These new twists make some think that many will not vote. That's why voter education is important. Since it's law now, voters must not fear showing ID at the polls, absentee voters must return ballots to the Lucas County Board of Elections by 7:30 on Election Night, and all voters must make sure they are voting in the right precinct.
Voter information is on the elections board's Web site. But many still do not have computers or Internet access at home.
So First, it's not too late to register to vote on Nov. 7. The last day to register is Oct. 10.
Almost anyone who is age 18 on or before Nov. 7 can register to vote, including high school and college students who are permanent Lucas County residents. Potential voters must be U.S. citizens and Ohio residents at least 30 days before the election.
Those who cannot register or vote are persons declared incompetent by a probate court; those who have violated election laws and are permanently disfranchised, and those who are incarcerated felons.
Persons convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, on probation or parole, or who have served their sentences can register to vote and they can vote.
Second, to register, one needs an application. They can be obtained from the Secretary of State's office or any county board of elections; deputy registrar at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles; county treasurers' offices; public libraries, public high schools, vocational schools, or designated public assistance or disability offices.
Registration forms can be completed and signed at those sites. Mailed forms must be postmarked at least 30 days before the election.
Third, anyone can vote absentee without providing an explanation.
However, to do so one first needs to complete an application, which can also be obtained where registration forms are available.
Or obtain an absentee ballot application from The Blade. Such a form was published on Tuesday, Sept. 26 on Page 7. Voters who have moved or changed their names will also find a notification form on that page that they can complete and send to the board of elections.
Watch The Blade for more application forms for absentee ballots that will be published in October. Or download one from the Secretary of State or board of election's Web site.
Fourth, don't go to the polls without ID.
Such identification can include only one of the following: an Ohio driver's license number, last four digits of the Social Security number, a copy of a valid and current photo ID, current utility bill, bank statement, pay check or government check, or government document with ID.
Fifth, without ID, one can still vote, but by provisional ballot.
That basically means your ballot will be accepted for counting in the election providing you take proof of valid ID to the board within 10 days of the election and that you were legally registered and voted at the correct polling site.
If you end up casting a provisional ballot, take ID to the board of elections in Suite 300 at One Government Center downtown as soon as possible.
To avoid having to make a special trip to the elections board, take proper ID with you when you go vote, and make sure you are voting at the right location.
But if you forget your ID, don't despair. That's what some are banking on. Just go get ID and before 7:30 p.m., go cast your ballot - at the right precinct.
For more information, call the board at 419-213-4001.