By Southwester Staff
D.C. voters will head to the polls soon, but with expanded early voting and vote-by-mail options. Many of the District’s residents will have their vote tallied before the final election day, Nov. 3. “The Southwester” hopes you will take a moment to review the following procedures to make sure you get your ballot to the D.C. Board of Elections (BOE) so your voice can be heard.
The District can register to vote on the BOE website, or by email, regular mail, or fax. October 13 is the voter registration deadline. If you miss that deadline, you can still register same-day by bringing proof of residence to your vote center. If you don’t bring valid proof of residence, you can still cast your ballot based on the Ward and ANC you believe you live in. However, your ballot will be considered a “special ballot,” meaning it will be sent to the BOE for review rather than being counted on-site.
District residents are all eligible for absentee voting, or vote-by-mail. They may seal their votes and send them through the U.S. Postal Service to the BOE or drop them off at ballot drop boxes. There are ballot drop boxes at the interim Southwest Library and BOE Headquarters, which is located on Half Street SE.
If you’re unsure whether or not you’re registered, you can check on the BOE website. While D.C. voters can visit any vote center to cast their ballot in person, BOE offers a search tool where residents can enter their address to see the closest location. The search tool also shows you where the closest mail ballot drop boxes and early vote centers are located. Nationals Park is an early vote center.
The BOE has taken steps to ensure voting in-person will be as safe as possible during the pandemic. Volunteers will wipe down voting machines after each use. There will also be bottles of hand sanitizer that voters can use for free stationed throughout each vote center. Masks will be mandatory. Vote centers in Southwest include Jefferson Middle School, King Greenleaf Recreation Center, and Nationals Park.
The BOE website also says you can vote from your car if “you are unable to enter a Vote Center due to a disability, seniority, or illness.” In that case, voters could drive to their vote center, check in from their car, and have their ballot brought to them.
Those who are incarcerated, under court supervision, or living at a halfway house can vote, and the BOE will hold a voter registration event at facilities where one is requested. If someone requested an absentee ballot while incarcerated, but have since been released, they may still vote in-person in early voting or on Nov. 3. The BOE will count the first vote you submit, whether it is received as an absentee ballot, special ballot, or live ballot.
Live ballots will be tabulated on-site as soon as you run yours through the counting machine at the vote center. Those who submit special ballots or vote-by-mail can check the status of their ballot on the BOE website.