How to vote by mail in the District, Maryland and Virginia

In the age of COVID-19, officials at the state and local levels are pushing for voting from home in an order to minimize the kind of crowding that facilitates the virus’ spread.

READ MORE: USPS urges jurisdictions to advise voters to request mail-in ballots no less than 15 days before election

When dozens were infected during in-person voting in Wisconsin this past spring, it served as a cautionary tale for other states.

Virginia, Maryland and D.C. each postponed their elections – and officials in those jurisdictions strongly encouraged residents to vote by mail when they did participate.

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized mail-in voting, saying such a process create too many opportunities for fraud.
Nevertheless, most leaders agree it’s the safest way to vote this November.

Locally, residents in the District, Maryland and Virginia will all largely be able to mail in their votes – but the process differs according to each jurisdiction.

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University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabado said the most important thing is to begin the process early.

Sabado pointed out that the postal service is poorly resourced to undertake the massive task, so anyone wishing to vote this November should begin the process as soon as possible.

According to Sabado, there have been a number of cases in which ballots failed to reach their destination on time, and weren’t counted.

“There’s nothing more infuriating to most people than to know they went through the trouble of voting and their vote wasn’t counted. It’s very important that people do this as early as possible, and don’t wait. And don’t wait until election eve to mail your ballot in. It has to be received in many localities by election day. By the end of election day,” he said.

District of Columbia

The D.C. Board of Elections says it is “mailing every registered qualified voter a ballot for the November 3 General Election.”
In order to apply for a ballot, go to

After you’ve filled out the ballot, send it back postmarked on or before Nov. 3.

The deadline for applications is Oct.  27.


Any voter can use a mail-in ballot in Maryland – you don’t need an explanation to vote this way.

To apply for a ballot, go to – where you can obtain online or print versions. Once it’s completed, the ballot must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3.

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot by mail or fax is Oct. 27.

To request a mail-in ballot via download, the deadline is Oct. 30.


In Virginia, you need to apply to vote “absentee” by mail.

To do that, log onto the state elections website – – and apply for a ballot either online or in print form and send it back in.

Once you receive your ballot, send it back postmarked on or before Nov. 3.

The deadline to apply online or by mail is Oct. 23.