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How to Vote in Washington, D.C.’s 2020 Election: What You Need to Know

NEW! AARP DC and the D.C. Board of Elections are holding a virtual town hall on how to cast your vote safely in the 2020 election. The event will take place on September 24 at 5 pm. Register here.

En español | The D.C. Board of Elections plans to mail a ballot to each of the city’s more than 500,000 registered voters in early October and expand in-person early voting to give voters options amid the coronavirus pandemic:

  • D.C. residents can use no-excuse absentee ballots to safely vote from home. They can also avoid Election Day crowds by voting early and in person at 32 polling locations from Oct. 27 through Nov. 2.
A man walks out of an absentee voting station after voting
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Here’s what else you need to know:

How do I register to vote?

You can download a registration application from the Board of Elections website and email, mail or fax it back, or deliver it in person. If you can’t download the application, request one from the Board of Elections.

Applications submitted online or by mail must be received by Oct. 13. But you can also register in person as late as Election Day.

The D.C. Board of Elections is also mailing paperwork to registered voters to confirm their address and voter information. You need to return it only if you spot incorrect information or if you’d like your ballot sent to another address. If you return it, be sure to send the entire form to the Board of Elections.

How can I get an absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?

All registered voters will be mailed a ballot and a postage-paid return envelope. You can also download an absentee ballot request form. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and must arrive no later than Nov. 13 — 10 days after Election Day.

How do I know my absentee ballot is secure?

Each voter’s ballot has a unique bar code. The D.C. Board of Elections has been using the process successfully for 20 years. Voters can drop off a completed mail ballot in ANY Ballot Drop Box at ANY time before 8 pm on Election Day, November 3, 2020. There will be at least five boxes in each Ward.

When is Election Day? When are polls open?

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

D.C. will offer early voting at 32 polling locations beginning on Oct. 27 and running through Nov. 2, the day before Election Day. Polls will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can access the district's early voting information portal to find out where to cast your ballot.

Capital One Arena will serve as an Early Vote Location and Election Day Super Center. DCBOE will set up voting stations within Capital One Arena’s concourse to check in voters, accept paper ballots and provide touch-screen electronic ballots. District of Columbia residents will have the opportunity to register in-person and cast their ballot the same day. Get more info.

Nats Park will be open for early and day-of voting.

What form of identification do I need to vote?

Registered voters do not need to show ID, unless you’re voting for the first time and registered online or by mail. Then you’ll need to show a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or U.S. passport, or a recent utility bill or bank statement. See the full list of acceptable IDs

 What is being done to make polling places safe from coronavirus? 

Polling places will have hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, disinfectant and social-distancing markers.

Will I be able to vote in the same place as I always have?

Not necessarily, since there will be fewer polling places open because of the coronavirus. Check your polling place at the Board of Elections website, under registration status.

What are the key races in D.C.?

  • U.S. president
  • U.S. House: D.C.’s nonvoting delegate and its shadow member
  • U.S. Senate: D.C.’s shadow member
  • City Council: 6 of 13 seats
  • Board of Education: 5 of 9 seats

Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this page and check back.

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AARP is urging older Americans to ask the candidates 5 key questions:

  • Just over half of all older Social Security beneficiaries rely on the program for at least 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
  • Half of the people with traditional Medicare spend at least a sixth of their income on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, as well as lower health care costs and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?
  • COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?

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