Oh yes you can! Busting voting myths to empower our community

Written by David Siders, Civic Engagement Coordinator, Downtown Main Library 

When it comes to voting, many misconceptions and myths may prevent Hamilton County residents from casting their ballots. Your public library, along with the Greater Cincinnati Voter Collaborative and the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition, are working to break down these myths and empower folks who may feel disconnected from the voting process, or not feeling inspired about their right to vote. Let your voice be heard! 

Myth: You can only vote in person. 

Truth: You may vote by mail (absentee ballot) to stay safe during the pandemic. All you need to do is mail in your application as soon as possible before the Oct. 31 deadline. The Library can help by printing and assist with postage for vote by mail applications.

Myth: You can’t vote if you've recently moved.  

TruthIf your address has changed, you can still vote. Change your address and your name online or download and complete the form and mail it in.

Myth: You can’t vote if you are experiencing homelessness.

Truth: A person experiencing homelessness can vote. Sheltered residents can vote using a shelter address such as the YMCA or YWCAUnsheltered residents can vote by giving a short description of their place of residence.

  • Mailing address is not requiredWhen filling out registration form, an unexpired Ohio driver’s license OR last four numbers of Social Security is required 
  • To register online, an Ohio driver’s license or Ohio state ID card is required in addition to the last four digits of one’s social security number 
  • If voting in person on Election Day, a photo ID or official document with the voters name and address is required.

Myth: You need a drivers license to vote. 

Truth: Various types of identification allow you to vote. 

  • Ohio driver’s license/Ohio state ID/Ohio interim documentation (must show your name and current or former address). 
  • State of Ohio or federal government photo ID (must show your name and current address). 
  • Ohio concealed weapons ID: (must show your name and current address). 
  • Acceptable documents as ID: (must show your name, current address, and be dated within 12 months)
    • Utility bill
    • Bank statement 
    • Government check 
    • Payroll check 
    • Government document 
    • Military ID issued by the Department of Defense 

You cannot vote if you have been convicted of a crime.  

Truth: People with criminal records have a right to vote. You can find a helpful infographic at Safe to Vote at Home. 

Myth: You have to speak English in order to vote.  

Truth: You do not have to speak English to vote. Here are a few helpful hotlines in different languages:  

Election Protection & Voting Info Hotlines 

  • 1-866-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish) 
  • 1-888-API-VOTE (Asian) 
  • 1-844-YALLA-US (Arabic)

Myth: It is unsafe for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people to vote.

Truth: Your gender presentation should not be a barrier to casting your ballot. 

  • Gender differences on an ID are not a valid reason to deny a regular ballot. Transgender voters may have ID that indicates a different gender than what they look like. This does not mean their ID is invalid or fraudulent for voting. 
  • Different clothing, makeup, or hairstyle on an ID is not a valid reason to deny a regular ballot. The photo on an ID may show a different gender presentation. As long as a voter can be identified from their picture, the ID is valid for voting. 
  • If one is still not allowed to vote on a regular ballot, they may request a provisional ballot.

Are you worried that your voter registration may have been purged or has incorrect information? Check your registration here, and you may still register to vote until Oct. 5, 2020. Ask Library staff to help you register to vote and apply for a vote by mail ballot—all for free. 

Check out the Greater Cincinnati Voter Collaborative's website and Facebook page and the Library's Voting Information page for all of the up-to-date information you need to know to empower you to vote. 

Watch a video about voting rights myths from the League of Women Voters.