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When Do Polls Close? A Voter's Guide To Election Day In Central Ohio

Ohio I Voted Sticker
Nick Houser

If you hadn't noticed, there's a pretty big election happening across the country today, and it can get pretty confusing.

Consider this your one-stop-shop for all the answers you need for Election Day - except who you should vote for. We can't help you with that one.

When can I vote?

Polls in Ohio will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. EST on November 8. If you're in line by 7:30, you will be allowed to vote.

Early voting in the state began October 12 and ends Monday, November 7. 

When can I expect election results?

The first state polls will close at 6 p.m. EST, and then more results will be coming in over the next few hours. The last state to announce will be Alaska, which closes polls at 12 a.m. EST.

Because of how the electoral college works, we should have a winner before then. Most recent elections have been called by around 11 p.m. Here's a good New York Times breakdown of poll closings, and a FiveThirtyEight hourly guide on what to watch for.

And here's a guide for how the Associated Press reports votes around the country.

Where can I find those results?

WOSU will be bringing you election results wherever you are. Check out the plan:

  • On our website, WOSU will have interactive maps and graphics showing local, state, and national races, an electoral college scoreboard, and the Congressional balance of power, as well as a live blog from our staff.
  • On the radio, 89.7 NPR News will feature a special Election Night program of All Sides With Ann Fisher at 7 p.m., and then NPR Coverage beginning at 8 p.m. WOSU will also provide on-air updates for local and state races as the night goes as results come in, and of course the next morning.
  • On television, PBS NewsHour will provide Election Night coverage beginning at 8 p.m. EST. If you don't have a TV, you can watch the live stream on our website

Where do I vote?

Depends on where you live. Google has a special widget we've reposted below to help you find your polling place and ballot info.

If you're in Franklin County, you can also look up your location on the Board of Elections website. This is most likely different from what your early voting location would have been. If you're coming from elsewhere in the state, use this website from the Ohio Secretary of State's office. 

What do I need to bring with me?

First off, make sure you're registered to vote and your information is up-to-date. Do that here.

Second, you must bring a form of ID. According to Ohio law, acceptable identification includes:

  • An unexpired Ohio driver’s license or state ID card with present or former address, as long as your present residential address is in the official list of registered voters for that precinct;
  • A military ID;
  • A photo ID issued by the United States government or the State of Ohio, that contains your name and current address and that has an expiration date that has not passed;
  • An original or copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other document with your name and present address. ("Current" means in the last 12 months.)

Check the entire list of acceptable IDs here.

What if I'm voting absentee?

The deadline to request an absentee ballot was November 5 at noon. However, if you have your application, there are a few ways you can still submit it.

To be counted, your absentee ballot must be received by your Board of Elections by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day or be postmarked by the day before (that's Monday). But since it takes two to five days for your ballot to be delivered by mail, if you submitted it late it may not be included in initial Election Day tallies.

You can also return your absentee ballot in-person to the Franklin Board of Elections (1700 Morse Road) on Election Day before polls close.

Can I change my vote if I voted early or absentee?


However, if you requested an absentee ballot but didn't submit it, you can go to your polling place on Election Day and submit a provisional ballot instead.

Wait, what's a provisional ballot?

A provisional ballot is used to record your vote if your eligibility is in question. Some examples of why you might be required to cast a provisional ballot:

  • You didn't provide, or don't have, proof of ID. (Seriously, remember to bring that!)
  • Your name doesn't appear on the poll list for that precinct.
  • You already requested an absentee ballot.
  • Your registration was challenged.

According to the Secretary of State's office, if you cast a provisional ballot without proper ID, you must go to the Board of Elections within a week to provide that ID for your vote to be counted.
Can I get a break?

Sure. Here's a picture of a koala found during a traffic stop in Queensland, Australia. It's in a backpack.

Credit Queensland Police Service

Okay, so what will I be voting for exactly?

A whole lot. There's obviously a big presidential race happening, but in Ohio, you will be busy with plenty of down-ballot races. For President and Vice President, you've got the options of:

Ohio also has a competitive Senate race:

And don't forget your Representative to Congress, State Representative, County Commissioner, County Attorney, Sheriff, County Recorder, County Treasurer, State Board of Education, State Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Common Pleas, and a number of bond issues.
If you live in Franklin County, find your sample ballot here. If you live elsewhere in Ohio, you can find your sample ballot here. That Google widget above also has sample ballot information. Don't ignore those down-ballot races!

Isn't the election rigged anyway?


Can I take my kid with me to vote?

As long as they're younger than 18, you can.

Am I allowed to wear my campaign swag?

You shouldn't. By law, you're not allowed to campaign within 100 feet of a voting location, and that includes wearing hats or clothing with a candidate's name.

Can I take a ballot selfie?

Yes, sorta. Taking pictures of completed ballots is technically illegal in Ohio. But some lawmakers want to repeal that law, so most likely nobody will give you any trouble for it - in 20 years, police have never enforced the law.

According to CNN, the Secretary of State's office doesn't have any problem with people posting pictures on social media either. 

Should I be on the lookout for anything weird?

There's been a lot of talk this election about "poll watching," voter fraud, and intimidation. The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division will be in Franklin County, and a number of other areas around the country, to monitor any issues with discrimination or other violations of the Voting Rights Act.

If you have any complaints about possible violations of election law, you can call the DOJ at 1-800-253-3931 or file a report online.

Journalists around the country will also be monitoring voting access through a project called Electionland. You can let them know about your voting experience online or by texting ELECTIONLAND to 69866.

If you have additional questions that we didn't answer here, put those in the comments below and we'll try to get to them.

Updated on November 8 at 3:30 p.m.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.