The Oct. 5 deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 general election is looming, and the Fulton County Board of Elections is trying to make the process easy.
BOE Director Melanie Gilders said registration forms are available in several areas, including just outside the door of the board building at 135 Courthouse Plaza in Wauseon, beside the county sheriff’s office. She said the procedure has been made even simpler by an accompanying drop box.
The BOE will be open Oct. 5 until 9 p.m. Voter registration forms are also located in Wauseon at Fulton County Job and Family Services, 604 S. Shoop Ave., and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 152 S. Fulton St., and at county libraries and voteohio.gov.
Voter registration forms Fulton County receives past the deadline from other counties or from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office will be processed provided those entities received the forms by Oct. 5. Otherwise, they will be processed after this year’s general election.
Thus far, 29,235 county residents have registered to vote in November. That includes 612 forms delivered to the BOE between the March primary election and last Thursday, 100 of which were registered online on National Voter Registration Day, held Sept. 22. Gilders said a few hundred more registrations could be added between now and the deadline.
“We’re really on pace for an average presidential election,” she said.
She said Fulton County maintains a steady 28,000-30,000 registered voters among its over 42,000 residents. Presidential election years usually see an uptick in voter registrations, “but for a presidential year this is right on track,” she said.
Gilders said she’s a bit surprised there’s not more of an increase, but said the numbers can still grow by the deadline. She said because there has been a steady stream of social media from LaRose’s office encouraging voter registration “people are more aware of what’s coming.”
Dips in voter registration are sometimes caused by maintenance of voter lists, in which people who have not actively voted over a course of time are dropped from the lists. However, Gilders said the county BOE will not drop anyone from the list before this year’s general election due to a directive from the state and the board’s own protocols during a presidential election year.
According to Maggie Sheehan, press secretary for LaRose, the number of registered voters in Ohio has climbed from 7.76 million in 2016 to 7.97 million in 2020.
The fact that the majority of Fulton County residents register to vote shows a population interested in exercising their rights, Gilder said.
“We have a very good voter registration rate,” she said. “Some elections, the voter turnout isn’t great. But people are getting registered, staying registered. If they plan to vote by mail, get those applications in.”
Ballots will be distributed beginning Oct. 6, which is also the first day of early in-person voting. During that time the county BOE office will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.