Student Voter Guide for Ohio’s 2018 Primary Election

Why primaries matter

Primary elections determine which candidates will appear on the November ballot for each of the two major political parties, and sometimes for third parties. So they’re your prime chance to choose the eventual candidates. Even if your first choice doesn’t win, your votes can also influence the stands of the candidates who do.

Primaries replaced a system where candidates were chosen by party leaders or participants in party caucuses. They more accurately reflect our democracy by letting the general public select the candidates.

The Importance of Mid-Terms

In November 2018, voters will participate in a mid-term election, or one held between presidential-election years. Mid-term elections can be an important opportunity to express support or dissatisfaction with a president’s performance and policies. 2018 primaries will include candidate nominations for 34 U.S. Senate seats, all 435 U.S. Representative seats, plus governors, other statewide officials, and state legislative seats.

Redistricting amendment

Ohio’s May 8 primary will also let voters decide on a new process for determining congressional and legislative districts.  Replacing a previous approach where the party controlling the legislature could create gerrymandered districts to give them a major advantage, the amendment would move to a much less partisan process with the goal of creating fairer and more competitive districts. If approved, the changes would take effect in 2021, the next redistricting point.

Who can vote in a primary election?

*See Type of Primary on the right sidebar of this page for Ohio requirements.


You are eligible to vote in Ohio if you are a U.S. citizen, a resident of Ohio (includes out of state college students), live in the precinct where you vote for at least 30 days, and are at least 18 years old by election day. Lawful permanent residents, commonly referred to as “green card holders” are not eligible to vote.

ID Requirements for registering – provide one of the following:

  • Ohio driver’s license number
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • A copy of one of the documents listed on the election website (bank statement, utility bill, etc.)

ID requirements for voting

  • Ohio driver’s license
  • Ohio non-driver photo ID from Ohio BMV
  • Military ID
  • A copy of one of the documents listed on the election website (bank statement, utility bill, etc.)

How to register

In Ohio you can register by mail or in person at your elections office. See Key Resources in the right sidebar for online access to registration forms.

Absentee ballots

Any registered voter in Ohio can request an absentee ballot and vote by mail. Electronic and PDF applications are available at the Secretary of State’s website.

Address to use for registering & 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, since 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
  • Or affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student.

Additional information



  • April 9: Registration
  • May 5: Absentee ballot request received by county board of elections
  • May 7: Absentee ballot postmarked to county board of elections


  • May 8: Absentee ballot returned in-person
  • April 10-May 7: In-person absentee voting
  • May 8: Primary Election


  • Semi-open primary: Registered voters can cross party lines in their ballot selection but must publicly declare their ballot choice before going into the booth. This is not regarded as a form of registration for that party.