More voters across the country and here in the D.C. area will be voting by mail this season. In the District, your mail-in ballot requires your signature -- and that signature must match your signature on file, or your vote won't count.
Every registered D.C. voter will be getting a ballot in the mail soon. In addition to selecting your candidates, you'll also have to sign the envelope. That signature will be inspected to ensure it matches the signature that the D.C. Board of Elections has on file.
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Someone will look through your ballot to make sure it matches. If for some reason it doesn't, it will go to another level of review.
"If the signature doesn’t match, you’ll hear from us right away," D.C. Board of Elections Chair Michael Bennett said.
If the signatures don't match, the D.C. Board of Elections will notify you either by email or regular mail, and you'll have the chance to resubmit your signature. Don't wait until the last minute to submit your ballot or there may not be time to fix any problems.
In the D.C. primary this past summer, 70% of all voters used mail-in ballots. More than 76,000 mail-in ballots were submitted. About 1% of those ballots, or just over 900, were rejected, primarily for issues with signatures.
You can track your ballot in D.C. to see where it is in the process and whether it's been received -- but that won’'t tell you if it's been invalidated, so it's important to check both your mail and email for any notifications from the Board of Elections.
Signatures can change dramatically over time, whether you might realize it or not. Here's a tip on how to be sure your signature will match what's on file: Look at your signature on your D.C. driver's license. Since many voters register to vote when they get a driver's license, this is the signature that the Board of Elections has on file.
There are 55 drop boxes open now in the District where you can drop off your ballot, and once in person voting starts, you can drop it off at any polling location without waiting in line.
You can still register to vote until Oct. 13 and get a mail-in ballot.
"If you don't have your ballot by Oct. 21, we're just asking people to consider themselves an in-person voter," Bennett said.
And in-person voting will mean waiting in line. While D.C. will have several super centers for voting, including Nationals Park and Capital One Arena, elections officials expect record voter turnout this year, so they want you to plan ahead and vote early.