ele_year_2011.jpgSpecial Election Voter Guide
Return to the Voter Guide menu
Printer-friendly version
DC Board of Elections and Ethics web site


How do I cast my ballot?

Confirming your eligibility
The iVotronic touch screen equipment
Marking the paper ballot
Casting a write-in vote
Language assistance
Access for voters with disabilities
Voting by mail
Other absentee ballot services

Confirming your eligibility
At the polls, you can check in by confirming your name and address on the poll book and cast your ballot in one of two ways – by either filling in the oval next to the candidate of your choice on a paper ballot or using the touch-screen voting machine that prints a paper audit trail of your selections.

If you are not registered to vote, you may register on Election Day, but you will need to bring proof of residence with you. For more information on voter registration, click here.

The iVotronic Touch Screen Equipment
If you choose to use the new iVotronic touch screen voting system, you can touch the screen or use audio controls to make, change, and review your selections and cast your ballot. A paper record of your selections is printed onto a paper log located on the bottom left of the voting equipment.

Voting on the touch screen is easy to do. You just touch your choice of candidate on the screen and then touch the yellow “Next” or “Back” arrows at the bottom of each page to move through the ballot. Changing your vote is easy - you just deselect one candidate and select another. You do not need to have computer experience to use the iVotronic touch screen machine to cast your ballot.

The touch screen voting equipment will not allow you to make more choices than allowed in any contest; however, it will allow you to correct or change your vote choices before you cast your ballot.

Marking the Paper Ballot
If you prefer, you may cast a paper ballot. At the polling place, you will be issued a paper ballot and can use a pencil or a blue or black ink pen to fill in the oval beside your candidate’s name.

After you mark your ballot, you can feed it into the M100 Optical Scanner, which will read your selections. If you make more selections that you may cast votes, or if there are stray marks that prevent your ballot from being scanned, the precinct scanner will alert you. You will have the option of accepting the ballot as voted, which will void your vote in the contest indicated on the display window on the scanner. If you return the ballot to the Ballot Clerk, your original ballot will be spoiled and you will be issued a new ballot. You may only receive up to two replacement ballots.

Instructions for casting your ballot are available at each polling place. If you have any questions about how to mark or cast your ballot, or if you have difficulty marking your ballot, contact a polling place official for instructions before you cast your ballot.

Casting a Write-In Vote
The ballot also has space for write-in votes, which are allowed in all contests on the ballot. To cast a write-in vote on the paper ballot, fill in the oval to the left of the space for the write-in vote and legibly print the complete name of the person in the appropriate space. To cast a write-in vote on the electronic voting equipment, touch the write-in line and type the name of your candidate using the touch screen keyboard.

Language Assistance
The Board strives to recruit multilingual pollworkers in precincts where a number of voters speak a language other than English. Because there are many Spanish-speaking voters throughout the District, the Board also provides Spanish language translations of the ballot and polling place materials in each polling location. You may also cast a Spanish language ballot on the touch screen voting machine, either on the screen or in an audio format.

Access for Voters With Disabilities
The District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics is committed to ensuring that every voter has equal access to the voting process. Voters with vision, mobility and other impairments will be able to vote privately and independently at the polls on Election Day. The Board selects polling sites and provides pollworkers with training that is designed to meet the commitments below.

Entering the Polling Place

  • If the main entrance to a polling place is not accessible, voters with disabilities will be able to enter the polling place through an accessible entrance.
  • If there is an alternate accessible entrance, the route from the street and parking will be clearly designated with signs.
  • Every polling place with parking will provide at least one designated parking space for vehicles bringing voters with disabilities to the polls.
  • Voters who encounter difficulties entering the polling place will be able to ring for assistance using a call bell. For the special election, the Board is using federal funds to upgrade the bells for better reliability.
  • Curbside voting is also available upon request, and ballots for senior citizens and voters with disabilities may be sent to an alternate polling location upon request.

Accessibility Inside the Polling Place

  • Every polling place has a touch screen voting machine that is available to all voters and is equipped with an audio ballot. A precinct worker at each location is trained to provide help, if needed, with the touch screen machine.
  • Magnifiers are available upon request and voting instructions and sample ballots printed in large type are posted at each polling place.
  • There is a clear path to both the touch screen voting machine and paper ballot marking booth and a ballot marking surface is available at a convenient height for use by a seated voter.
  • A voter who is unable to mark the ballot or use the touch screen may request assistance by a pollworker or another person of their choice. Voters may only be assisted at their request and may not be assisted by their employer or a representative of their employer or union.

If you are a senior citizen or voter with disabilities and cannot vote at your assigned polling place, call the Board’s Registrar at 202-727-2525 at least five days before the election and your complete ballot can be delivered to the polling place of your choice. In most cases, a ballot cast in a different precinct will count for District-wide offices. However, the Board cannot count a same-day registration that is cast outside of the correct precinct.

To report problems with the accessibility of any polling location, call the Board’s Office of General Counsel at 202-727-2194.

Voting by Mail
You do not have to be out of town, or ill, or provide any other reason to request a ballot by mail. However, you must request your ballot in writing at least one week before Election Day.

You can request an absentee ballot here.

You can track the status of your absentee ballot here.

If you request an absentee ballot by mail, read the instructions that were sent with your ballot. You will need to fill in the oval next to the candidate(s) of your choice using a pencil or with a blue or black pen that does not smear.

If you make a mistake and spoil your absentee ballot, you have a right to a new ballot. However, you must return the original ballot to receive a replacement. To prevent double voting, you cannot vote a regular ballot at the polling place if you have requested an absentee ballot. However, you may cast a special ballot that will be counted if you do not return your voted absentee ballot.

You may mail or hand deliver your absentee ballot to the Board’s office, or hand deliver your ballot to any polling place, before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Election Day and received at the Board’s office within ten days. Your ballot will be counted, along with other absentee ballots cast in the election, after the Board has verified your signature on the envelope against the signature on your voter registration card.

First-Time Voters Who Registered by Mail
If you are a first-time voter who registered by mail, federal law requires that you provide one of the forms of identification listed below. If you did not include a copy of this information with your voter registration, you will be required to return it with your absentee ballot. Please do not send original documents.

Acceptable forms of identification for first-time voters who registered by mail include the following:

  • Photo identification
  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check or paycheck
  • Any other government document that shows your name and address.

Other Absentee Ballot Services

  • Military and/or Overseas Voters. Special services are available to assist members of the military (including spouses and dependents) and civilian voters residing outside the United States. Qualified overseas voters can receive their blank ballot by e-mail or fax. If you are unable to return your ballot in time for Election Day, emergency procedures also exist to allow e-mail or fax return of your voted ballot. For more information, call the Board or send an e-mail to the Executive Director.
  • Permanent Absentee Ballot Status. Voters may request an absentee ballot for one election, an entire calendar year or in every election. If you would like to receive an absentee ballot for every election, you can indicate so on your application. You will automatically receive an absentee ballot for all future elections for which you are eligible to vote.
  • Absentee Voting at Licensed Nursing and Assisted Living Facilities. Voters who are residents or temporarily residing at a licensed District of Columbia nursing or assisted living facility may register to vote, request an absentee ballot and have their ballot hand-delivered by a Board employee to their facility or bedside. Contact your nursing home administrator if you would like to request an absentee ballot.
  • Medical Emergency-Delivery by an Agent. Starting the sixth day before an election, voters who are unable to vote in person because of a medical emergency who did not apply for a mail ballot may vote an Emergency Absentee Ballot. An emergency absentee ballot must be delivered and returned by a qualified registered voter. To have your ballot picked up and returned by an agent, you must complete an Application for an Emergency Absentee Ballot.
  • Absentee Voting for Eligible Incarcerated Voters. Voters who are incarcerated for a non-felony conviction or are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a felony may register and vote in the general election at one of the Department of Corrections facilities. The Board coordinates the voting process with the Department of Corrections.


DC Board of Elections and Ethics
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 727-2525 | TTY: (202) 639-8916 | Tollfree: 1-866-DC-VOTES


BOEE Footer