Election Day Etiquette & Rules: FAQ on ID, Selfies, Political T-Shirts and More in DC, Maryland & Virginia

This campaign season has been rough -- don't let your election day end up that way, too! Check out our guide to voting etiquette and rules to make sure your Tuesday is a breeze.

Photo Identification

Washington, D.C.: The District doesn't require ID from voters who are already registered and have voted before -- but some polling places in D.C. do require ID to enter the facility. If you haven't registered to vote yet or you've only recently registered, you should bring a form of photo ID and proof of residence with you. (Note: D.C. is the only jurisdiction in the Metro area with same-day voter registration.) 

Maryland: First-time voters in Maryland will be asked to show ID before voting. Make sure to bring a valid photo ID or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement or government document that shows your name and address. It must be dated within three months of the election.

Virginia: If you're voting in Virginia, you must bring photo ID with you to the polls! Bring a valid driver's license or identification card with you -- check out Virginia's Department of Elections for more forms of valid ID.


Washington, D.C.: Although electronic devices such as cellphones can be used at polling places, taking pictures is discouraged in order to protect the integrity of the process and not disturb fellow voters, said Tamara L. Robinson, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections. However, voters are permitted to use cellphones to consult notes for their ballot choices.

Maryland: In Maryland, it's illegal to use phones, cameras or other electronics at a polling place or early voting center. Keep them in your bag or pocket.

Virginia: Under Virginia law, you can use electronic devices inside the polling place so as long as you're not a representative of either candidate or political party. However, if you're disrupting the voting process in any way with an electronic device, then an election officer may ask you to leave. Even if you are asked to leave because of your cell phone or video camera, you'll be able to cast your ballot before doing so.

Ballot Selfies

Washington, D.C.: There isn't a ban on taking selfies with your ballot in D.C., although election officials discourage the behavior.

Maryland: It's not a good idea to take a selfie with your ballot in Maryland at the polling place, since it's illegal to have electronic devices at the polling place. (The only exception to the rule is members of the media, but they are not allowed to take a photo of you casting your ballot.) Otherwise, save the "I voted!" selfies until after you leave the polling place. Photos of mailed ballots are OK, though.

Virginia: Snap away if you want; ballot selfies are legal in Virginia. Nothing in Virginia law prohibits voters from taking pictures of themselves, fellow voters or their ballot within the polling place, Attorney General Mark Herring has said

Clothing, Buttons or Stickers With Political Messages

Washington, D.C.: You will be asked to remove any political hats, buttons, T-shirts or other items, or cover them up before entering the polling place.

Maryland: Maryland allows voters at their polling places to wear clothing, buttons or stickers with political messages written on them; however, they will need to leave immediately after casting their votes. 

Virginia: Virginia prohibits wearing campaign apparel within 40 feet of any entrance of a polling place.

Campaigning For/Against a Candidate or Ballot Issue

Also called electioneering, this practice includes handing out fliers, holding signs and encouraging voters to support or oppose a candidate or ballot question. 

Washington, D.C.: It is illegal to display campaign materials within 50 feet of any polling location. It is also advised to remove any campaign buttons, T‐shirts or similar items before arriving.

Maryland: Any electioneering must stay outside of designated boundaries, which can be up to 100 feet from the polling place entrance used by most voters. There should be signs reading "No Electioneering Beyond this Point" to mark the border.

Virginia: Electioneering is not allowed within the polling place the "prohibited area" 40 feet from any entrance to a building which houses a polling place. No one is allowed to wear campaign apparel, hand out campaign literature or encourage election or defeat of any candidate or issue on the ballot.

Bringing Children

Some students may not be going to school on Election Day, which means that you might be bringing your kids with you to the polls if you can't find a babysitter -- or if you want to making the voting process a teaching moment. 

Washington, D.C.: Minors are allowed to go with voters to polling places in D.C. as long as they don't disrupt the voting experience of others, Robinson said.

Maryland: In Maryland, you can bring one or two children under the age of 18 years old with you to vote. Under Maryland law, so as long as they're not disrupting the voting procedures, they're allowed with you. 

Virginia: In Virginia, you can bring a child age 15 or younger into the voting booth with you.

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