Special Ballot Referrals

Voters may be referred to the Special Ballot Clerk for any of the reasons detailed below. The Special Ballot Clerk will determine whether the voter is eligible to cast a "live" (regular) ballot or whether the voter must cast a special ballot, which will be tabulated after Election Day. A voter may cast a “live” ballot if they are completing a Same-Day Registration with proper proof of residence, changing their address at their assigned precinct, or updating their name at their assigned precinct.

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Live Ballots

Same-Day Registration

If a voter is not registered to vote, they may do so at the polling place that serves their residence address providing they show acceptable proof of residence. Acceptable forms of proof of residence include:

  • Current and valid District of Columbia DMV issued ID
  • Government check or paycheck*
  • Bank statement*
  • Current utility bill*
  • Student housing statement
  • Homeless shelter occupancy statement
  • Other government document
  • Lease

* The issue, bill, or statement date must be within 90 days of Election Day

Note: The address on the proof of residence document must match the residence address listed on your registration application.

After providing acceptable proof of residence, the voter will be asked to complete a Registration Update Form which will be returned to the DC Board of Elections following the election. The voter should receive an updated voter card with their up-to-date information within six to eight weeks of Election Day. Once the voter has completed the Registration Update form, they will be issued a “live” (regular) ballot.

If a voter does not provide acceptable proof of residence, the voter will be required to vote a special ballot and will have until 5 PM on the Thursday following Election Day to present acceptable proof of residence to the Board of Elections in order to have their special ballot counted.

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Change of Address

Same-Day Registration

If a voter wishes to change their address on Election Day, the voter must do so at the polling place serving their new address. The voter must update their information and provide acceptable proof of residence. Acceptable forms of proof of residence include:

  • Current and valid District of Columbia DMV issued ID
  • Government check or paycheck*
  • Bank statement*
  • Current utility bill*
  • Student housing statement
  • Homeless shelter occupancy statement
  • Other government document
  • Lease

* The issue, bill, or statement date must be within 90 days of Election Day

Note: The address on the proof of residence document must match the residence address listed on your Registration Update Form.

After providing acceptable proof of residence, the voter will be asked to complete a Registration Update Form which will be returned to the DC Board of Elections following the election. The voter should receive an updated voter card with their up-to-date information within six to eight weeks of Election Day. Once the voter has completed the Registration Update form, they will be issued a “live” (regular) ballot.

If a voter does not provide acceptable proof of residence, the voter will be required to vote a special ballot and will have until 5 PM on the Thursday following Election Day to present acceptable proof of residence to the Board of Elections in order to have their special ballot counted.

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Change of Name

If a voter needs to update their name on Election Day, they may do so at their assigned precinct. They are not required to provide proof of residence in order to update their name. The voter will be asked to complete the Registration Update Form. Once the Registration Update Form is completed, the voter will be issued a "live" (regular) ballot.

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Special Ballots

A voter may be required to complete a special ballot for any of the following reasons:

  • Voter is voting outside of their assigned precinct
    • You must vote at your assigned precinct in order for your ballot to count.
  • Marked as "Early Voter"
    • The pollbook shows you have voted at an Early Voting Center. If you have not already voted, your special ballot will be counted.
  • Marked as "Absentee Voter"
    • The pollbook shows you have received an absentee ballot for this election. If you have not already voted, your special ballot will be counted.
  • Marked as "ID REQUIRED," but does NOT have ID
    • The pollbook indicates you must show identification because the DMV-issued number or the last four digits of the social security number you provided on your registration application could not be verified and you did not show ID before voting.
    • You have two days following the election to show your ID to the Board.
    • Acceptable forms of ID are listed under Same-Day Registration above.
  • Marked as "Administrative Challenge"
    • Mail was sent to your residence address and returned to the Board within 30 days of the election.
    • Your ballot will count provided you have not moved.
  • Voter claims different party affiliation status (PRIMARY ELECTION)
    • You claim a different political party in the primary other than the one shown on the list of registered voters at the polling place.
    • Your ballot will be counted if the Board has your party affiliation listed incorrectly due to a clerical error.
  • Voter claims different ANC/SMD (GENERAL ELECTION)
    • You claim a different single member district in the general election other than the one shown on the list of registered voters at the polling place.
    • If the Board’s research following the election indicates you do not reside in the single member district for which you received a ballot, your vote for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner will not be counted.
  • Voter already checked in/signature line already signed
    • The pollbook indicates you have already checked in to vote.
    • If you have not already voted, your special ballot will be counted.
  • Challenge to voting qualifications approved by Precinct Captain
    • Your right to vote was challenged by another voter or a poll watcher and approved by the Precinct Captain.
    • Your special ballot will be counted if the Board determines that you are the person you say you are and you are eligible to vote in the election.
  • Voting hours extended by a court or the Board
    • You voted during extended hours.
    • If the court orders that polling places remain open after 8 PM, all voters who cast ballots during these extended hours must vote by special ballot.
    • Your vote will count if the court decision is upheld.
  • Same-day registration but the voter did not provide acceptable proof of residence
    • You are registering to vote as a Same-Day Registrant, but you did not provide acceptable proof of residence.
    • You have two days following the election to show your proof of residence to the Board.
    • Acceptable forms of proof of residence are listed under Same-Day Registration above.
  • Change of address but the voter did not provide acceptable proof of residence
    • You are changing your address at your assigned precinct, but you did not provide acceptable proof of residence.
    • You have two days following the election to show your ID to the Board.
    • Acceptable forms of proof of residence are listed below.

The Special Ballot Clerk will direct the voter to complete the right side of the special ballot envelope. The voter must complete the required sections of the envelope and sign the voter affirmation. The Special Ballot Clerk will then complete the left side of the envelope and issue the voter the correct special ballot.

The voter will complete the special ballot, insert it into the secrecy envelope, insert the secrecy envelope into the special ballot envelope, and deposit the special ballot envelope in the special ballot box.

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Will my votes be secret?

Yes. Your ballot will remain in the envelope until the Board has reviewed and qualified your special ballot for counting. If qualified, your ballot is separated from the special ballot Envelope so that your ballot is kept secret. If the BOE decides not to count your ballot, your special ballot will remain in the sealed special ballot Envelope for the two-year period required for maintaining election records.

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How can I find out if my ballot is counted?

You can look up the status of your special ballot online the day after the election to find out if your special ballot was counted, and if not, the reason why it was not counted.

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What are my rights to appeal to have my vote counted?

If the Board decides not to count your special ballot, you may appeal that decision to the Board. You may call the Office of the General Counsel at 202-727-2194 to schedule a hearing.

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When are special ballot tallied?

Votes cast by special ballot that are found to be qualified for counting in the election are tabulated at 5:00 p.m., two (2) days after the election.

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Are special ballot counted even if they will not change the outcome of the election?

All qualified votes cast by special ballot are tabulated.

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