District of Columbia Elections

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Lacking Evidence of Voter Fraud, Legislatures Target Its Specter
03/23/17 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 01:30

Nationwide, Republican state legislators are again sponsoring a sheaf of bills tightening requirements to register and to vote. And while they have traditionally argued that such laws are needed to police rampant voter fraud — a claim most experts call unfounded — some are now saying the perception of fraud, real or otherwise, is an equally serious problem, if not worse. ...

In the wake of Republican claims, bills have been filed in at least 27 state legislaturesto stiffen rules or document requirements for registering and voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. At least 16 have proposed new or revised voter ID laws; many more are tightening requirements to register.

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District of Columbia Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: Online or by Mail - October 11, 2016

           In-person – before polls close on Election Day

For more information, visit the DC Board of Elections website.

Election Day:

The polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Election Day.

D.C. offers early voting. Voters may vote in person starting October 22 at One Judiciary Square, and on October 28 at the remaining locations. All early voting locations will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Voters can find a list of early voting locations by visiting the DC Board of Elections website.

How to Find Your Polling Place: Visit the District of Columbia Board of Elections website.


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines:

Voters must apply to register to vote 30 calendar days before the election in which they intend to vote. For the 2016 Presidential Election, the deadline is October 11, 2016.

How to Check Your Registration: Use the DC Board of Elections website or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility:

In order to be eligible to register in Washington, D.C., you must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be a resident of the District of Columbia
  • Be at least 16 years old (District residents may preregister to vote at age 16, but will not receive a voter registration card or be eligible to vote until they are at least 17 with a date of birth indicating that they will be 18 on or before the next general election.)
  • Not be incarcerated on a felony conviction
  • Not have been found by a court to be legally incompetent to vote
  • Not claim voting residence outside of the District of Columbia

How to Register: D.C. residents may register in person, by mail, or online.


A voter may register online by visiting the DC Board of Elections website.

By Mail

To register by mail the voter must have either a Driver’s license number or a DMV- issued ID number or a social security number. Your mailed application must be postmarked by the 30th day prior to an election for you to be eligible to cast a ballot; after that date, you can only register to vote in person. There is no registration deadline in person, you may register and cast a special ballot on Election Day.

In Person

You may register to vote in person by filling out a registration form at the DC Board of Elections office at 441 4th Street, NW, Suite 250 North, Washington, DC 20001. Or you may register in person at an early voting location or you may register in person at your polling place on Election Day.

Identification Required for Registration:

When registering for the first time you will need to include a copy of one of the following to verify your residency in the District:

  • A copy of a current and valid government photo identification
  • A copy of a current utility bill
  • A copy of a current bank statement
  • A copy of a current government check
  • A copy of a paycheck
  • Other government document that shows the name and address of the voter

If you are registering to vote online, you can bring the residency document to the polling station when you go to vote. 

If You Want to Vote Early

For the 2016 election, early voting begins October 22, 2016 at One Judiciary Square and October 28, 2016 at the other Early Voting locations. Early voting locations may be found on the DC Board of Elections website.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Voters may vote by absentee ballot for any reason.  If a voter is voting for the first time in DC, registered to vote by mail, and did not provide identification at the time of registration, the voter must include a copy of an ID with the absentee ballot application. Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • A copy of a current driver’s license or other photo identification which shows the voter’s name and address
  • A copy of a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document which shows the voter’s name and address

Absentee ballot applications must be received by the Tuesday before Election Day. For the 2016 general election, this deadline is November 1. Voted absentee ballots must be received by Election Day. Voters can track their absentee ballot by visiting the DC Board of Elections website

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

DC does not require identification to vote. However, some polling places require ID to enter the facility.  It is therefore encouraged that voters bring some form of identification with them to vote.

If it is your first time voting in federal elections in the district and you registered to vote by mail, you must present proof of residence, either at the time of registration, at the polling place, or when voting by mail.  Additionally, if you will be registering during the early voting period or at the polls on Election Day, you will need to provide proof of residence.  Individuals who fail to present this identification may vote by special ballot.

Valid forms of proof of residence include:

  • a copy of a current and valid government photo identification
  • a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or pay check that shows the name and address of the voter

VoteRiders has created Washington, DC voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

If you have moved within DC, you may file a change of address notice on Election Day at your previous polling place.  You will then be permitted to vote at the polling place that serves your current address. Otherwise, you may also vote by special ballot at the new polling place.

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) DC-specific FPCA page.

UOCAVA voters may also register through the DC Board of Elections website or may request a registration card by calling 1-877-THE-VOTE (843-8683).

Receiving and Returning an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters may receive their blank absentee ballots by U.S. mail, fax, or electronic transmission. To request election transmission of the blank ballot, UOCAVA voters must mark the appropriate box and provide an email address on the FPCA (see DC-specific FPCA page). Ballots must be returned via U.S. mail, online, or by fax.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters. You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses). If you do not receive your regular ballot in time, you may use the FWAB. Your FWAB must be received by your local voting officials in DC no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s DC-specific FWAB page.

If you have a felony conviction in the District, you voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of the term of incarceration, including probation or parole.


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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