Student Voter Guide for Ohio’s 2020 Presidential Primary Election

This guide will help you participate in Ohio’s March 17 presidential primary, in which you can help choose America’s presidential nominees. Voter registration in Ohio is nonpartisan; you do not select a political party. You declare your political party affiliation by requesting the ballot of a political party in a partisan primary election, such as the Ohio presidential primary. Candidates from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party filed to appear on the ballot. If you don’t choose a party, you will be considered unaffiliated, and cannot vote in a party primary.

Dates and Deadlines

  • Primary election date: March 17, 2020, 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM
  • Deadline to register to vote: February 18
  • First date to vote early in person or by mail: February 19
  • First date to request a by-mail absentee ballot: December 18, 2019
  • Last date to request a by-mail absentee ballot: March 14 at noon
  • Postmark deadline for a by-mail absentee ballot: March 16
  • Last date to return a ballot to your county board of elections in person: March 17, by 7:30 PM

Why this primary matters

You have a chance to determine the presidential nominees for one of the two major political parties, alongside three other states, two weeks after Super Tuesday. Democratic Party delegates are allotted proportionately to all candidates who surpass a 15% minimum, while the Republican Party delegates are allotted Winner Take All by statewide popular vote.

Candidate information

For Republican and Democratic presidential candidate websites, CNN has a complete list. Politico also has a quick guide to Democratic candidate positions.


You are eligible to vote in the primary if you are:

  • A United States citizen
  • At least 18 years old by November 3
  • A resident of Ohio for at least 30 days before March 17
  • Not incarcerated for a felony conviction
  • Not declared incompetent
  • Not permanently disenfranchised for violating election laws

How to register to vote

In Ohio, you can register to vote online. You can also order a voter registration form, ask your county board of elections to mail a voter registration form to you, or register in person at your county board of elections, public libraries, the office of any state-assisted college or university responsible for providing assistance to students with disabilities, and other locations.

ID Requirements for registering

To register online, you will need both of the following:

  • An Ohio driver’s license or an Ohio ID card
  • The last four digits of your Social Security number

To register on paper, you will need one of these two, or one of the following: a copy of a current and valid photo ID, a military ID, or a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document (other than a notice of voter registration) that shows your current name and address.

ID Requirements for voting

To vote, whether at the polls or absentee, you will need one of these: an unexpired Ohio driver’s license or current state ID card (for absentee, the license number will do), the last four digits of your SSN (for absentee only), or a current military ID, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document, including photo ID (other than a notice of voter registration mailed by a board of elections) that shows your current name and address, including from a public college or university. If you’re a student living on campus, your school may issue a current utility bill with a current address that you can use as voter ID, including a zero-balance bill indicating that you’ve already paid for utilities as part of your housing fee. Copies or originals are acceptable.

Absentee voting

In Ohio, you can cast an absentee ballot without an excuse. You will need to complete, print, and sign an absentee ballot request form and mail it back to your county board of elections. The ballot will be sent to you, and you can return the completed ballot either by mail or by delivering it to your county board of elections. (You can also obtain an absentee ballot at your county board of elections.) See Absentee Voting for more instructions.

Address to use for registering and voting

Per federal election law, college students can register and vote at either their campus address or their permanent home address, which may be out of state. However, voters can only be registered at one address. If you are not going to physically be in the state where you plan to vote, you will need to request an absentee ballot.

It’s your choice where to register. Registering at your campus address will not:

  • Affect your federal financial aid
  • Prevent your parents from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
  • Cost you any scholarships, unless they’re tied to specific residency requirements
  • Affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student.

Key Resources