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Voters in Franklin County who are wanting to cast their ballot early but need it notarized are invited to come to St. Peter’s United Church of Christ for two upcoming voter outreach events sponsored by the congregation. 

The church, located at 20 E. Fifth St., is hosting a drive-up notary event from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, and from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21. 

In a press release announcing the event, the congregation noted that many in the community may have concerns about safely voting in person due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“In an effort to assist the people of our community with exercising their right to vote safely and with ease, St. Peter’s U.C.C. will be holding two drive-up notary events in the back parking lot. ... This will be an opportunity to drive up and have their ballot notarized in a safe, socially distant manner,” the congregation said in the release. 

Per state law, those who are wanting to vote early must request their absentee or mail-in ballot from their local election authority, which in Franklin County is the County Clerk’s Office.

A voter is eligible to vote absentee, without the notary’s signature, if they meet the following criteria: the voter is homebound or unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to illness or disability; the voter is the caregiver for a person who is homebound due to illness or disability; or the voter has contracted or is at-risk for contracting COVID-19 due to a variety of health factors including their age,  lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, has a weakened immune system, a heart condition, liver or kidney disease,  chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, or has diabetes. 

All other voters wishing to vote absentee,  including those who work as election workers or who will be out of the county on Election Day, are required to have a notary’s signature. If voters cast their ballots in-person at the County Clerk’s office at the time of their ballot request then they are not required to have a notary’s signature.

Those wishing to vote by mail, which state election officials have described as a separate voting program from absentee voting, must have their ballots notarized. Ballots must also be returned by Nov. 3 to the County Clerk’s Office through the U.S. Postal Service. The ballots can not be delivered to the County Clerk’s Office in-person.