COLUMBUS -- The early voting period for the May 6 primary starts Tuesday, with more than a month for eligible Ohioans to cast ballots in person or mail them to county elections boards.

Residents still have about a week to register (and cast ballots during what will be the state's final Golden Week) or to update their information in advance of Election Day.

Though statewide races are mostly uncontested, there are a variety of local candidates and issues to consider.

Here are 10 things you should know going into the primary election season:

1) Register: The deadline for registering to participate in the May 6 election is April 7. You can accomplish that task in person at county election boards, bureaus of motor vehicles and other designated agencies or online via the secretary of state's

The website will provide you with the necessary registration form, which you'll have to send in, since Ohio doesn't allow online registration. Yet.

If you are already registered, you should log into the website between now and the deadline to make sure your address and other personal details are correct. If you need to make changes, you can do that online.

2) Golden Week: Lawmakers recently passed and Gov. John Kasich signed legislation eliminating Golden Week, that short period of time when eligible residents could register and cast ballots on the same day.

But that new law doesn't take effect until after the May primary, meaning you could feasibly register and vote during the next few days.

Few people have done so in recent even-year elections, however.

According to statistics provided by Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jon Husted, a total of 1,651 people registered and voted during Golden Week in 2010, and 5,844 did so in 2012.

That's out of 183,104 total absentee ballots cast in '10 and 600,617 in '12.

Come November, voters will have 28 or 29 days to cast early ballots, with the absentee period starting after the registration deadline.

3) Other Election Laws: Several other Republican-backed election law changes that were passed by the legislature earlier this year and signed into law by Kasich also don't take effect until after the primary.

That includes SB 216, which changes requirements for casting and counting provisional ballots, and SB 205, which changes requirements for absentee ballots.

The latter permits the secretary of state to send absentee ballot applications to all voters while prohibiting other public officials from doing the same.

McClellan said applications would be mailed for the general election but not the May primary.

4) Absentee Ballots: Anyone can vote early in Ohio, either in person at designated polling places or through the mail. For mail-ins, you will have to submit an application for an absentee ballot, then fill it out and mail it by the Monday before the election or drop it off in person by Election Day at the board of elections office (not your local precinct).

If you request and receive an absentee ballot but decide not to cast it, you likely will have to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day until local officials can confirm your mail-in ballot was not used.

5) In-Person Voting: Husted has already set hours for early voting, adopting the approach endorsed by the Ohio Association of Election Officials.

In-person voting starts Tuesday, generally from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays through May 2. County elections officials will stay open until 9 p.m. on April 7, and early voting will be offered from 8 a.m.-noon on May 3, the final Saturday before Election Day.

A comparable schedule will be in place for the Nov. 4 general election, with weekday voting from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. starting on Oct. 7. Boards will be open for early voting from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for two Saturdays -- Oct. 25 and Nov. 1.

6) Early Voting: Though lots of people choose to vote early, the majority of Ohioans will cast their ballots on Election Day.

Consider 2010, the last comparable primary election: Of the more than 1.8 million people who voted, about 458,000 ballots were cast early.

7) Election Day: The polls will be open on May 6 from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Information on precinct polling places is available at

8) Contests: There's only one contested race among statewide office-holders. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald faces Dayton resident Larry Ealy for the Democratic nomination. FitzGerald has the Ohio Democratic Party's endorsement and already is focusing on challenging Gov. John Kasich in November.

The remainder of the statewide races -- attorney general, auditor, treasurer and secretary of state -- are unopposed.

Libertarian candidates for governor and attorney general will not appear on the ballot in May or November, barring court action.

9) Issues: There is one statewide issue on the ballot, a $1.9 billion public works bond issue that's supported by Democrats and Republicans. It's a continuation of the state capital improvement program, which was originally OK'd by voters in 1987 and renewed twice since then.

The new amendment seeks up to $175 million in state borrowing annually for five years (up from $150 million currently), followed by up to $200 million annually for the remaining five years. The proceeds would be used for grants for local roads, bridges, water supply, wastewater treatment, storm water collection and solid waste disposal.

According to Husted's office, there are more than 600 local issues to be decided by voters during the primary, too. A full list is posted on the secretary of state's website (

10) Ohio Voters Bill of Rights: The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus and other supporters are circulating petitions with hopes of placing an amendment before voters setting early voting hours and other election-related requirements.

Among other provisions, the amendment spells out how eligible residents could register and when they could vote, extending early in-person voting over the final two weekends before a general election and attempting to ensure more challenged ballots would be counted.

It's not something you need to consider for the May 6 primary, but you might see petition circulators out and about in coming weeks and months.

Kovac is the Dix capital bureau chief. Email him at or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.