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Make your plan to vote in the 2020 election

One of the most important parts of our constitution is “We the people.” Without, you, the person voting for his/her elected officials, we would have no democracy, no freedom, no liberty, no pursuit of happiness. The United States could become an authoritarian government.

Every election is very important and many would say this is the most important in our lifetime. So, I hope to give you the information you need to make your plan to vote in the 2020 election. Your plan needs to include three steps: checking your registration, deciding how to vote and voting.

The first step of your plan is to check that you are registered to vote. Go to voteohio.gov. Click on “register to vote.” Type in your first name, last name, county and click “search.” If you are registered, notice the exact name you used to register. That is the name you need to use on future paperwork. In my case, I used “Betsy L. Cook” and not just “Betsy Cook.” How you signed your name is important to know as you work your plan to vote.

If you are not registered to vote or need to change your address, click on “register to vote” and follow the directions.

The second step of your plan is how to vote and you have three choices:

Vote By Mail: If you are a registered voter in Ohio you should have received an application for an absentee ballot from Sec. of State Frank LaRose. Fill this out and send it in. The Washington County Board of Elections will send you a ballot after Oct. 6. If you did not receive an application but wish to get an absentee ballot, go to voteohio.gov and click on “vote by absentee ballot” and print one out. Another option is to call or write the Washington County Board of Elections 740-374-6828, 204 Davis Ave. Marietta, OH 45750 and ask them to send you an absentee ballot application.

Vote Early in Person: ­ Early voting begins Tuesday, Oct. 6 till Monday, Nov. 2 at the Washington County Board of Elections, week days 8 to 5 and weekends are added in late October. Go to voteohio.gov to view the Vote Early schedule.

Vote on Election Day: ­ Tues. Nov. 3 at your polling place. Go to voteohio.gov or call the Washington County Board of Elections to find your polling place.

The third and final step of your plan is voting.

If you are voting by mail, absentee, you receive your ballot after Oct. 6, fill it out using the name you signed when you registered to vote and send it in. The first thing the Board of Elections does when they receive your ballot is check your signature with your registration. The names must be the same or your ballot could be rejected. After you mail your ballot in, you can go to voteohio.gov to track your absentee ballot. You can also hand deliver your absentee ballot to the drop box at the Washington County Board of Elections available 24 hours a day, everyday or to the office during hours.

If you are voting early in person at the Washington County Board of Elections, be sure to take an ID; driver’s license, state ID, military ID, or utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, government check with correct name and current address. Wear a mask. The Washington County Board of Elections offers curbside voting for people unable to walk into the office. Call for more on curbside voting.

If you are voting in person on Nov. 3 at your polling place, remember to take ID and wear a mask.

An important consideration ­ If you apply for and receive an absentee ballot, you are assigned a numbered ballot. Should you change your mind and decide to vote in person early or on Nov. 3, take your absentee ballot with you so it can be recorded and voided. Your in-person vote will be provisional but counted. The provisional ballot will be counted at our official count a couple weeks after the election.

Something to remember ­ The U.S. mail is moving slower so mail your ballot as soon as you can. Once you mail your ballot, you can track it on voteohio.gov.

Voting is a right and a privilege of every American citizen that is 18 and registered. Thomas Jefferson said, “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”Make your plan to vote and participate in our democracy.

An aside — Need a ride to early vote, deliver your mail-in ballot or vote at your polling place on Election Day, call Democratic Headquarters 740-371-5105 or Republican Headquarters at 740-885-2024.

Betsy Cook is from Lowell, an At-Large member of the League of Women Voters and a co-founder of Speak For Yourself, Vote!

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