Columbus and Franklin County officials have a simple message for the central Ohio electorate - vote early.
The city launched its Vote Safe Columbus campaign this week, reminding residents that October 5 marks the deadline to register to vote or update registration information if they've moved or changed their name.
Franklin County Board of Elections director Ed Leonard encourages eligible voters to take care of that now and then request an absentee ballot to vote early.
"As I always say, life happens," Leonard continued. "You just don't know where your life is going to be. You may at the last minute have a hospitalization. You may have a family member that tests positive, and suddenly you have to quarantine. I just think it's better for folks to make that plan, and the plan should be to vote early."
The county's Early Vote Center at 1700 Morse Road opens October 6. COVID-19 protections will be in place, and the center will have more room.
"It used to be in a 15,000 square-foot-space, but we're going to move some operations off site so the early vote center will actually be 40,000 square feet of space," Leonard said. "The machines will be spread out. The check-in stations will be spread out. We will have personal protective equipment including masks. If someone shows up without a mask, we will offer them a mask. We'll have shields in front of the check-in stations. We'll be giving voters a single use stylus, what refer to as an electronic pencil. So a voter doesn't have to touch the machine."
Leonard added that there will be plenty of hand sanitizer and disposable wipes for cleaning equipment and surfaces. The county has already received almost 175,000 requests for absentee ballots, surpassing the total for the 2016 general election.
Here's a link to the Franklin County Board of Elections.