Three Ways to Vote in the District of Columbia
For Primary and General Elections, the polls open two weeks before Election Day. Find out when and where the early voting locations will be open.
Vote by Mail
You can vote by mail with an absentee ballot. Apply for an absentee ballot no later than seven days before election day.
Vote on Election Day
In the District of Columbia, all polling locations are open on Election Day from 7 am until 8 pm. On Election Day, you must vote at your assigned polling location. Find your polling location.
What to Expect ...
When Voting in Person
- You will be asked for your name and for your signature to be able to vote.
- If you are a first-time voter in the city, you may be asked to show identification.
- The poll worker will give you a paper ballot to mark in a private booth or a card to put into a ballot marking machine.
- If your name is not on the list of voters, you can still vote register to vote and cast a ballot if you have the correct ID.
- If your name is not on the list of voters and you don't have the correct ID, you can still vote with a Provisional Ballot.
- Don’t feel rushed, and ask for help if you need it.
When Voting with an Absentee (mail-in) Ballot
- You must apply for an absentee ballot. You can sign up online or use the application that comes with your Sample Ballot.
- Your request for a mail-in ballot must be received by the DC Board of Elections no later than the Tuesday before election day.
- After you fill out the ballot, be sure to sign it and mail in the completed ballot to arrive no later than 8 pm on Election Day. You can drop off your absentee ballot at any polling location in the city on Election Day. You must sign your ballot for your vote to be counted.
ID Requirements for Voting in DC
Most Washington, DC voters do not need to show ID when voting. However, if you are a first-time Washington, DC voter who registered by mail, and election officials could not verify your identifying numbers (your Washington, DC driver’s license or ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number), you will have to provide proof of identification, either at the polls or any time before Election Day.
- Before you go to the polls, you can check your registration status here >>
- If your registration status is incorrect, you can update it online. However, if it is less than 30 days before the election, your updates will not be included in the official voter rolls and you will need to bring identification with you to your polling location.
Registering to vote at your voting location
If you have not registered to vote, you can register to vote AND vote at your voting location.
Early Voting. You can register to vote and vote at any early voting location during Early Voting. Find out when and where the early voting locations will be open.
On Election Day. You need to go to your voting location to register and vote. Find your voting location here >>
Bring ID. If you are able to confirm who you are and your residence you can vote with a regular ballot. You will need to bring ID to prove who you are and where you live. Find out what ID you will need >>
On Election Day, if you are not registered to vote and you do not bring acceptable ID with you to your polling location, you will be able to register and vote the a Provisional Ballot.
Five Things to Know on Election Day
- Go to the Right Place. Poll locations can change. Be sure to locate your polling place before you go vote.
- Bring ID. If this is the first time you are voting in the District of Columbia, you may need to show ID at your polling place. To be safe, bring your driver's license or another photo ID with your current address. A recent utility bill, bank statement, or paycheck that includes your name and street address will work.
- Get a Ballot. Don't panic if you are not on the list of voters at your polling place. You can register to vote at the polls on election day and vote with a Special Ballot.
- Get Help. Poll workers are there to help you. They will show you how to use the voting machine or fill out your paper ballot. They will get you a Special Ballot if you need one. Ask for help. Read the instructions and if you don't understand them, a poll worker can answer any questions you might have.
- Stay and Vote. You probably won't have to wait too long to vote. But even if the line is long, please don't leave without voting. The outcome of this election will be important you your vote matters!