By Jeff Gallatin
Cuyahoga County voting by mail opened April 1, and area officials are encouraging voters to again take advantage of this alternative.
Board of Elections Director Pat McDonald said voting by mail is easier for many voters.
“The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is encouraging voters to take advantage of this safe, reliable and convenient method of voting in the May 6 primary election,” he said. “Voters may also track their ballot on our website, http://www.443vote.com, to confirm their ballot has been received by the Board of Elections. Vote by mail/absentee ballots are the first ballots to be tabulated when the polls close at 7:30 p.m. on Election Night.”
Voters can now apply for a vote by mail ballot, McDonald said.
“Now is the time to apply for a ballot,” he said. “It only takes a minute to obtain and complete a ballot application. The sooner you request a ballot, the sooner yours will come in the mail.”
As of last Thursday, the number of vote by mail ballot requests for each Westshore community were as follows: Bay Village, 139, including 53 Democrat, 61 Republican, 23 nonpartisan, two minority party; Fairview Park, 249 (120 Democrat, 118 Republican, 38 nonpartisan); Lakewood, 249 (170 Democrat, 56 Republican, 19 nonpartisan, four minority party); North Olmsted, 398 (236 Democrat, 114 Republican, 48 nonpartisan); Olmsted Falls, 133 (54 Democrat, 41 Republican, 38 nonpartisan); Rocky River, 171 (84 Democrat, 65 Republican, 21 nonpartisan, one minority party); Westlake, 450 (213 Democrat, 183 Republican, 53 nonpartisan, one minority party).
In the May 2013 Cuyahoga County primary, only three Westshore cities had issues on the ballot. Westlake, with both a school levy and a library issue, had 1,939 ballots by mail requested and 1,801 returned. Lakewood had 1,493 ballots by mail requested and 1,335 returned. Olmsted Falls had a tax levy, with 420 ballots by mail requested and 371 returned.
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland, a former member of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, said voting by mail has increased in importance in recent years.
“More people are utilizing the ballots by mail,” she said. “It’s more convenient for many people to be able to mail it.”
Sutherland said people need to remember that the ballots by mail aren’t sent out without their asking.
“You have to make the request to receive it,” she said. “There are many more ways to make the request and get the application. You can get it now by going online, calling or even at the board or a library location.”
Ballot applications are available on the Board of Elections website, http://www.443vote.com, by calling the board of elections at 216-443-VOTE (8683) and at all public libraries. There are 24 issues, 174 candidates and over 600 people running for the county Democratic Party Central Committee.
“Vote by mail gives voters plenty of extra time to study the candidates and issues at their convenience and in the privacy of their own home,” McDonald said.
Sutherland noted that even though it’s too late to register for the May primary, interested citizens still should register for the November election.
“You need to be registered to take part in it,” she said.
Voters also have the option to vote early at the board of elections office, located at 2915 Euclid Ave. Early voting days and hours: Today through Friday, from April 9 through April 11, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday through Friday, from April 14 through May 2, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, May 3, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.