News & Politics

Here’s How to Handle Ballot Delivery Problems in DC

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The DC Board of Elections made history this week: it began mailing ballots to every voter in the District, so everyone has the opportunity to vote by mail. The first batch of ballots was mailed to voters this week, and two more batches will be mailed out over the next couple of weeks.

It wasn’t totally smooth sailing, however: Users on social media began complaining about ballots being sent to the wrong addresses and ballots bundled with other ballots. While board spokesperson Nick Jacobs says the agency is working to address the complaints, the problems don’t seem to be limited to one neighborhood. All DC residents should double-check their registered addresses at the BOE website.

If you encounter any of these issues with your mail-in ballot, you should follow these instructions to make sure your ballot is counted and your voice is heard.

Help! I haven’t received my ballot yet.

If you haven’t received your ballot yet, there’s no reason to panic: it may not have been sent out. Voters in the same residence won’t necessarily receive their ballots in the same batch, so yours may still be on the way.

If you think your ballot may have been sent to the wrong address, you can call the BOE and check whether your ballot has been mailed. If you haven’t received a ballot by October 21, Jacobs says, you should plan to vote in person.

I received someone else’s ballot.

If you receive someone else’s ballot by mistake, you should write “return to sender” and send it back to the BOE, Jacobs says. Once the board receives the returned ballot, it will update the voter rolls. If you can, you should also note the reason for sending it back: “addressee doesn’t live here anymore,” for example.

I forgot to change my registration address.

You can change your voter registration address online until October 13 and still receive a ballot at your new address. If you miss this deadline, plan to vote in-person.

There’s an error on my ballot.

If there’s a typo on your ballot, you should contact the DCBOE as soon as possible, either over the phone or by email, so it can send you a new ballot. The deadline for requesting a new ballot is October 21.

Once you’ve received your replacement ballot, you should destroy the erroneous ballot, or write “Spoiled” in permanent marker on it before throwing it away, Jacobs says.

My ballot was bundled with other people’s.

If your ballot didn’t make it to your mailbox for some reason (it was bundled in with your neighbors, for example), you should immediately report it to the BOE and send a picture. The board will contact the US Postal Service, and a postal worker will be sent distribute the ballots properly.

You should not try to distribute ballots on your own—otherwise you put yourself at risk for charges of mail tampering.

The DC Board of Elections will begin to accept mail-in ballots at drop boxes on October 5. In-person early voting begins October 27. For more information, visit the board’s website

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