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Washington, D.C

Washington, D.C. has opportunities to implement voter-centric reforms in several issue areas. D.C. should build upon its excellent work in 2020 by codifying temporary reforms enacted during the 2020 election cycle. Transitioning to a full Vote By Mail system would most significantly increase voter access to mail ballots and the electoral system generally. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

By transitioning to Vote By Mail permanently, D.C. can continue the excellent progress made in 2020 to expand voter access and convenience. As states transition to Vote By Mail, during the first few election cycles states see a precipitous drop in in-person voting. Once this happens, D.C. can save a substantial amount by consolidating polling locations into vote centers.
Creating an online portal for voters to request an absentee ballot not only makes it much more convenient for voters, it also would be a boon to election officials. The system could be built to feed directly into the voter registration system to help verify addresses, collect contact information, and to remove administrative steps (and costs!) to process a large amount of requests. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register, current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
Ensuring that voters do not need to make an extra trip to the post office is a voter-centric reform that breaks down an economic barrier to the vote. While D.C. prepaid postage for the 2020 elections, the state should make prepaid postage permanent for all future elections.
With a drastic increase in mail ballots, D.C. has a great opportunity to reach for the gold standard of post-election security by implementing risk limiting audits.

D.C. implemented top-tier ballot tracking in the 2020 election and should make it a permanent feature for all future elections. This system has been shown to increase voter confidence and participation and to keep rejection rates low.

In response to the pandemic, D.C. temporarily created convenient district-wide vote centers where any voter could vote. By making these vote centers permanent, D.C. can save on labor and supplies by consolidating voting locations. Additionally, creating vote centers and allowing voters to drop off their absentee ballots at polling places will lessen the reliance on the postal service and increase voter convenience.

Recent Legislation

As of May 20, 2021

Washington, D.C. enacted several orders, which made mail voting more accessible throughout the 2020 election cycle. R 23-896/23-957 ordered that all eligible registered voters be sent mail ballots in postage-prepaid envelopes for the general election. D.C. prepared for the increase by adding drop boxes and extending their already sufficient postmark deadline from 7 days to 10 days. The Board of Elections mailed ballots ato all eligible voters, created a “Vote Safe” voter education campaign, and introduced measures to increase safety of physical polling places. A 23-0426 sent voter registration forms, mail ballots, and educational materials to all eligible incarcerated electors. Additionally, D.C. quickly implemented signature verification and created a cure process. D.C. has not yet passed legislation to codify these electoral improvements, but still has the opportunity to do so.